Residents returning to Clearlake find destroyed homes in Cache Fire

Cal fire is working to contain the Cache Fire a day after it scorched more than 80 acres and burned nearly 60 homes. Some residents made it back to their neighborhoods on Thursday only to find their homes were destroyed.

Within the burn zone of the Cache Fire, the remains of the dozens of homes destroyed in the Creekside Mobile Home Community on Dam Road are still smoldering.

At a 5 p.m. news conference, Lake County sheriff's and fire department officials said the initial call about the fire was for an oven fire at 6th Avenue and Cache Street. The fire has been 30% to 40 % contained. In addition to the homes lost, 158 vehicles were destroyed. Fortunately there are no known fatalities or reports of missing persons.   

With most of the roads in the area blocked, resident A.J. said he had a difficult time finding his way in. When he did, he confirmed his home was one of the ones destroyed. 

"Yeah, my home is right where the Y is right there, if you go left, it's the second one on the right," said A.J. "It's gone."

A.J. said he was out Wednesday afternoon when the fire broke out and didn't learn about the fire or evacuation orders until he tried to get home. 

"I was at the Dollar General parking lot giving someone a ride, and on our way back saw smoke," said A.J. "I thought it was actually out there a ways, but got closer and realized how close it was. They already had this shut down, couldn't even get out here."

He says he's had a few close calls with wildfires in years past, but this one destroyed everything. "It's like they watch the patterns and see what hasn't burned yet, you know?" A.J. said.

Pacific Gas & Electric and Cal Fire crews streamed in and out of the area Thursday. Cal Fire crews continued working to stop the spread of fire. Repopulation is expected to take several days. 

"I'll be building containment lines, putting out hot spots felling trees in the hazard ways to get equipment in to do rehab on sight," said Paul Duncan from Cal Fire.

Crews are also hoping that the wind direction would shift and help in their efforts. 

"It's the wind behind me coming in this way. It's the wind coming in out of the North and the East coming in out of the Sacramento Valley," said Duncan. "Drier, hotter, and for us it's our fire weather. Finding something that's not completely extinguished, embers within a tree or roots grabbing that a spreading or starting a new fire for us," said Duncan.

Cal Fire is still working to confirm that one person was seriously injured in the fire. That person was flown out of the area for treatment.  

An evacuation order remains in effect for the area surrounding the fire. Cal Fire says it's still not safe for residents to return. 

The official cause of the fire remains under investigation.