Weary locals cope with another Lake County wildfire

- For the second time in as many weeks, Lake County residents watched a growing wildfire and evacuated their homes as the Jerusalem Fire grew to 6,000 acres Monday.

The fire started Sunday afternoon and is burning northeast of Middletown in the Jerusalem Valley area.

"Nothing really shocks us anymore," said Steve Kaufmann of the Ventura County Fire Department.

He was in Lake County for the Rocky Fire and moved to help with the Jerusalem Fire just a few miles away.

"To have a new fire close, it wasn't a huge surprise. The vegetation in California is just dry and we expect that there will probably be more fires," Kaufmann said. "So that's why we can't stress enough that people really need to be ready."

"We're hooked up to our trailer and packed," Jerusalem Valley resident Julie Vonada said. "We could be out of here in three minutes."

Vonada and her husband, Frank, are under mandatory evacuation orders. They watched the fire all night and all day Monday from their front porch.

"All of our family thinks we're crazy," they said. "But we can see it."

The Vonada's neighbor, Chris Cascio, had to evacuate last night.

"I almost cried because it was pretty terrible," Cascio said looking at the smoke plume in the distance. "Just devastation. Everything was burnt. There's no brush around our property no more."

Cascio said firefighters were able to save his home, but other outbuildings on the property are gone.

50 homes in the Jerusalem Valley area were under mandatory evacuation orders. In Hidden Valley, residents in another 1,200 homes were told to be ready to go if needed.

The evacuation center is at Middletown High School, where the Red Cross is doing the same thing evacuated residents have been doing; packing and unpacking.

"So yesterday we were demobilizing to a certain extent," explained Virginia Hart with the Red Cross. "They [supplies] are right now being unpacked. So we're kind of right now waiting to see what happens to this fire, see if it gets much worse."

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