Some Valley Fire evacuees allowed to return to check on livestock

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - The latest numbers released from Cal Fire on Tuesday morning show the Valley Fire has burned 67,000 acres and is now 15 percent contained. A small, 3.2 earthquake rattled the area near Cobb Tuesday at 5:46 a.m.

Five hundred firefighters were brought in overnight, bringing the total number of firefighters to 2,300.
At least 585 homes have been destroyed in the fire.

Some evacuees were allowed to return to Middletown to see what was left of their homes.

The people allowed back to their properties are those who had to leave pets or livestock behind. They were escorted by deputies for 15 minute visits.

For most evacuees, this was the first time seeing their properties.

One home left standing belongs to volunteer Lake County firefighter Don Lopez. "I saw all the houses and they were just devastating gone - there was nothing here. And I thought my house is gone and I came around the corner and my house is standing like a beacon. It's like my God, I don't know how it exists. And I stood there for like an hour. And I just stared at my house and I was crying. I didn't know what to do. I was numb," he said.

Lopez said he's thinking about all of his neighbors, along with his daughter, whose homes were lost.

He says he can't imagine how the neighborhood will rebuild.

Meanwhile, KTVU checked in with Cal Fire Monday night to see what direction the fire might be headed as at least 9,000 homes are still threatened.

David Shew with Cal Fire said, “Right now the fire is fairly stable. It’s not moving dramatically in any direction. It’s only grown by about 1,000 acres in the last 24 hours so relative to the initial start of this fire, which grew approximately 40,000 acres in 12 hours, it’s relatively stable right now”

Shew says there are concerns about letting evacuees return home because fires in Lake County over the summer have been extremely unpredictable and can burn the same areas twice. “We have to be prepared to expect anything.” That means structures that were previously saved may still be threatened.

A USGS map shows the fire as of Sunday night. It shows the size of the Valley Fire compared to the previous Rocky and Jerusalem fires in the area.

 
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