Residents Return Home After Willow Fire Evacuations Lifted

SAN ANDREAS (CBS 13) — Several people are back in their homes tonight after an unexpected evacuation due to the Willow Fire Sunday afternoon.

Evacuation orders for the Willow Valley subdivision have been lifted, but CalFire has continued to battle the flames after nightfall.

“Fortunately, we’ve had a little bit of cooler weather this weekend so it’s not in the hundreds, which is a good thing,” said Nancy Longmore, spokesperson for CalFire’s Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit.

Dean Morris lives on Willow Creek Road and got his first glimpse of the fire as he crept up towards his home.

“At first, just smoke, way up on top of the hill here and in about 10 minutes, it was down, crossing crossing the creek which is about a mile down,” he said. “That fire moved really fast!”

He and his wife tried to round up their animals but Morris said they ran out of time.

“We have a barn up there and fire was up to the side of the barn,” Morris said.

So the family jumped into their cars and told CBS13 they had to drive through flames to get out alive.

“Now I feel better than I did earlier but you know it is what it is,” Morris said. “It’s one of the not-so-beautiful things about living up here in a beautiful place.”

Cal Fire said the department is still investigating what caused the fire but neighbor Meredith Brooks said it started after she heard a loud screech on her street.

“So when it went by, it was a car with the right rear wheel burning, not sparking, burning,” she said.

Brooks told CBS13 she saw the fire start on the corner across from her home. Watching her trees burn brings back a flood of memories from last year’s Butte Fire, Brooks says.

“It is devastating. We just got this property last year, just before the Butte Fire,” Brooks said.

Longmore said at least one home has sustained some damage from the fire and has a reminder for homeowners in the area to stay proactive.

“It’s not too late to do your defensible space around your home, if you haven’t done it yet, get out and do it,” Longmore said.

Longmore told CBS13 that August and September typically see most devastating fires and she doesn’t expect fire season to die down until the area sees significant rain this fall.

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