Many evacuees from the La Porte and Cascade fires are still waiting to return home, and some fear that their homes won’t be there when they do. Cal Fire has confirmed that 247 structures have been destroyed in both Yuba and Nevada counties, but it’s unclear how many are homes.
Many evacuees are staying at the Red Cross shelter at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds. Others who are staying at hotels spend the day there anyway, hoping to meet evacuees who may have news of their neighborhood.
Jacob and Sierra Hammond fled their home in Loma Rica early Sunday morning as a wall of flames blazed through a nearby field. After reaching safety, they checked Facebook regularly to see if the fire reached their house.
“There were back and forth rumors on Facebook," Sierra Hammond said. "Some people said our house was still there others said it was not.”
The rumors turned out to be false. The Hammonds say someone later went back into the evacuated area, filmed the houses on their street and then posted the video to Facebook. They watched online as the flames crept up to their home, then stopped.
“We saw the fire come right up to our driveway, burnt one of our cars a little, but the house seems fine,” she said.
While the Hammonds are grateful for the news, Yuba County officials warn that entering evacuated areas is extremely dangerous. County spokesperson Russ Brown is urging people to be patient through this difficult time and to wait for Cal Fire officials to assess the damage.
“Our problem is, it may look safe, but there’s still an active fire there, there’s still a lot of power lines down. So if we let people into their property, they could still be in a very dangerous situation.”
One evacuee thought of a clever way to check on his home, and it’s safe.
“I call my house about every hour just to make sure it’s still there.”
That’s Glenn Kyler. He and his wife Rebecca are from Loma Rica and they have four alpacas they weren’t able to take with them. They figure that if their phone is ringing, their house is still there. But this method won’t work for everyone. Power has been shut off for some of the Loma Rica area, assuring that no new fires are sparked by downed lines.
For now, there are few things evacuees can really do to learn if their homes are safe. The good news is that resources will be available to anyone who does lose their home,including those without fire insurance. Also, because the state declared a disaster in Yuba County, there should be more resources available to help fire victims get back on their feet.