VACAVILLE (CBS13) — A fast-moving grass fire forced several communities out of their homes Friday evening.
The Nelson Fire quickly burned more than 1,000 acres after sparking just after 5 p.m. near Interstate 80.
“The fire jumped over the ridge right here and we’ve never seen it this bad,” said Mike Bennett, who has lived in Vacaville since 1975.
Fire ripped down the hill behind California State Prison, Solano and California Medical Facility on Peabody Road. Several families had to make a quick decision: wait to evacuate or get out now.
“I was coming home from work and the flames started on the backside and then when I got home, they started to crest over the peak and they were coming down the mountain on the backside of the prison,” said Bob Minter, who lives in the Foxboro neighborhood.
Minter watched from his backyard as the flames inched too close for comfort to his home.
“We came out here and started seeing flames probably 300 feet away,” he said. “It was just a wall of fire creeping this way.”
Hours earlier, trees had lined one side of the prison but now there’s nothing left but black earth. Minter and his neighbors in the Foxboro community quickly packed up what they could and looked to police for more information. Some wanted to wait before packing up.
“No, we’re not leaving yet,” Bennett said. “That’s why I’m staying out here to see if we’re gonna leave.”
Meanwhile, the entire Lagoon Valley Neighborhood was told to evacuate, as flames raged dangerously close to the homes.
Minter, a volunteer firefighter, tried to evacuate his family as calmly as possible.
“The first thing is grab maybe the first half dozen most valuable things to us and the rest can just burn,” he told CBS13.
His family was already shaken by the Carr Fire, where his uncle, aunt and cousin lost three homes just weeks ago.
“It kind of puts it all in perspective,” Minter said.
Evacuation orders in Vacaville have been lifted but some are still under effect in Fairfield.