PARADISE, Calif. (KTVU) - Families in parts of Butte County are being allowed to return to their properties and survey the damage after being evacuated by the Camp Fire.
Sam Yarbrough returned to his 15-acre ranch on Neal Road on Monday outside the town limits of Paradise.
“I knew it was going to be bad. I didn’t think it was going to be this bad,” Yarbrough said.
The 78-year-old built two homes on his property. He lived in one house and rented out the other. Both houses burned down. Yarbrough searched through the debris to look for money he had saved, but it was gone. He had called Paradise home for the past 40 years.
“I don’t have enough time left on this planet to ever have it again and that’s pretty hard to take,” he said. “I guess this is closure.”
Off of Skyway in Chico, Larry Woodward said he was one of about a dozen people who lost their homes on Oak Ridge Drive. Woodward sifted through the rubble on his property in search of his late wife’s jewelry. He said his wife, Donna, died in the summer.
“I lost my wife in May so I’ve done a lot of grieving over that, then I have to deal with this but, it’s just things… she’s still in my heart for sure,” Woodward said.
Woodward had placed a tarp over the fire place where he said he kept Donna’s ashes in an urn. The couple was married for 55 years. Woodward said they loved the ocean and always talked about having their ashes mixed together and scattered at sea.
“Forensic dogs are going to sniff the area and find her remains,” he said. “Hopefully it will be enough that they will get something for us.”
Woodward also lost seven cars, including a 1990 Thunderbird Super Coupe, but he said they are just things. He said he has a great family and church that are helping him get through this difficult time.
“It seems like everyone has come together,” he said. “It’s amazing how people have stepped up big time.”
Authorities are slowly lifting evacuation warnings for areas in the fire zone, but authorities warned the public to be cautious. The hazardous fire debris poses many health and safety risks.