Firefighters, bulldozers play major role with saving homes in Pawnee Fire burn area

- As of Wednesday afternoon, Lake County evacuees are home, or returning home, with most homes untouched by the fire thanks to an army of firefighters. 

Mauricio Perez hadn't seen his house, let alone slept in it, for the last four nights. But at 1:00 p.m. he was allowed to return to his Spring Valley home. 

"I'm glad, you know, we were all just sitting there talking and worried about who lost what. A couple of friends way back in the valley lost a couple of things,” said Perez. “Just happy. I'm glad to be back.”

Santos Modesto's family just returned but he never left. "I had animals and my home and, unfortunately, due to the last fires, I wasn't able to afford insurance any longer and so it was I wanted to be able to put out spot fries if they started, protect my neighbor’s homes, the looters that tend to come into the area and loot areas," he said.

With a fore area so large, this is not over. "By no means is this a done deal. We have interior parts of the fire that are still smoldering and actively burning and they will continue to burn until crews out there patrolling mop it up. So we still have work ahead of us," said Cal Fire Public Information Officer David Clark.

And bulldozers of all sizes played a pivotal role in fighting this fire. Even at the fire's height, bulldozers we're cutting fire breaks throughout the fire area. The firebreaks not only slow the fire, but if cut wide enough, they can prevent the fire from spreading. While many fire breaks exist throughout the region, it appears that this fire was intense enough to cause officials to cut more of them and, of the existing ones, cut them wider.

Just as important are the hundreds and hundreds of ground crew members who make sure that hot spots are fully extinguished as well as cut fire break lines in areas so steep that not even bulldozers can cut them. 

“This is incredibly dangerous, exhausting and tedious work in high temperature conditions on incredibly steep, irregular and unstable terrain. It could flare up again. We do have an expected change in the weather pattern this weekend. So we still have work ahead of us," said Cal Fire's Clark.

There's more than a hundred days of prime fire season to go.

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