By Heather Janssen

PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) – The River Fire near Colfax has torched thousands of acres, destroyed dozens of homes and displaced several families—but containment of the flames continued to grow Saturday.

Many evacuation orders were lifted on Saturday and allowed some people the chance to return home for the first time in a few days. Others, however, are still left waiting.

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Off of Ben Taylor Road, the road remains blocked at Hillcrest Boulevard despite homes around the corner no longer under evacuation order.

Among those returning home, families were emotional and relieved. The feeling of evacuation and returning home to find their property OK was still fresh on many of their minds. They said they were thankful their houses are fine, but know others weren’t so lucky.

“It’s good to be back home,” said Mike Walker, who lives near Pine Grove Lane. He’s grateful to still have a roof over his head, “It relieved me so much, I can tell you that. At least I was able to sleep at night after that.”

Many people in the surrounding communities can’t say the same. Homes at the top of Hillcrest were among the dozens destroyed.

“I had three friends lose houses up there,” Walker said.

Ron Pucci, who lives near Colfax High School, can relate to Walker’s friends. His lush greenery and home of 47 years were lost to the River Fire when flames closed in. His family, he said, barely made an escape.

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“I could see my house was already fully engulfed in flames,” Pucci said.

A photo of his home afterward shows nothing left but embers and ashes.

“We’re a little disappointed right now,” Pucci said. “But we’ll bounce back.”

On Saturday, firefighters continued checking homes. Crews aren’t allowing people back into certain areas until power and water can be safely turned on. Pucci, one of the many who lost nearly everything, is eager for all evacuations to lift and ready to rebuild.

“We’ll recover but it’s going to take a long time,” he said. “We’ll be back.”

Families, however, have had a chance to be escorted back to their homes to either gather essentials or safely assess any damages. Pucci said it was cathartic to set foot on his property again, even if there’s not much there.

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Still, many families with houses in the depths of destruction are still anxiously awaiting a chance to return home.

Heather Janssen