LAKE COUNTY (CBS13) — The Pawnee Fire burning in Lake County is the largest active fire in the state and is Cal Fire’s No. 1 priority, according to a CalFire spokesperson.
The fire has burned 10,500 acres and is 5 percent contained. The winds have pushed the fire away from neighborhoods.
“The firefight has been difficult today. We had increased winds out there on the fire line,” said Billy See, an assistant chief with Cal Fire.
He says 1,500 firefighters attacked the blaze from land and air. The fire burned 22 homes over the weekend, but on Monday, that number remained unchanged.
“The No. 1 priority for this fire right now is their property,” said See.
“I’m too old to try and rebuild or buy another home,” said Spring Valley resident John Laughridge.
He has COPD and says he struggled to leave but managed to make it to the Moose Lodge evacuation center.
“They’re really good people. All the volunteers, they’re just great,” said Laughridge.
In all, 1,500 people have been told to pack up and leave their homes. Many are left waiting for news that their properties are still standing.
“We’ve been living with our hearts in our throats,” said Lola Claypool.
Images of destroyed homes have only increased the anxiety for people at the shelter.
“You think are we going to have a home when we go home. Where are we going to go? What are we going to do?” said Claypool.
She says knowing her family is okay gives her peace, while the unknown of her home’s safety makes for long nights.
“That’s all we’ve got,” said an emotional Claypool.
Spring Valley residents have been told it could be 3-5 days before they’re allowed back to their properties. The power is out and water is unavailable.