YUBA COUNTY (CBS13) – Monday will mark the one year anniversary of the northern California wildfires that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes.
“The winds just came out of nowhere and it was so dry,” said Matthew Hunt of Loma Rica.
Images of the flames that swept through the town of Loma Rica in Yuba County are still fresh in Hunt’s mind.
“It seemed like it was forever ago, but it was just yesterday because it burnt an image,” he said. “(The home) was just completely destroyed, there was nothing left when it was over.”
The Cascade Fire broke out last October in the middle of the night eventually burning into another fire known as the Wind Complex. It scorched nearly 10,000 acres, destroyed 142 homes, and took the lives of four people.
Hunt lost nearly everything. He fled the flames with only his truck and dog Vixen.
“It was overwhelming. You can’t imagine seeing what you owned completely gone, it was like a bomb blew up,” he said.
Now one year later there are many signs of recovery. Dozens of homes are being rebuilt, each new home now required to have fire hydrants built in to carry thousands of gallons of water.
And some homeowners have even moved back in to resume some sense of normalcy.
“A lot of people are rebuilding, but I am sad that I know a lot of people couldn’t,” he said.
For those who chose to stay, there’s forever an underlying fear.
“My gosh when the lights go out now it’s like oh man not again,” he said.
A small community now battling back and moving forward despite the painful memories.
“I will never forget about it my entire life. It’s with me,” Hunt said.
The county said one of the biggest problems is not having is enough contractors to rebuild because simply so many homes were destroyed.
Cal Fire has completed the investigation from the Cascade Fire and handed the report over to the Yuba County District Attorney. It has not been released to the public.
The DA says if there was any negligence, he will file charges next week.