Small town residents check homes after Valley Fire

HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE, Calif. (KTVU) – The gated community of Hidden Valley Lake was another neighborhood where people either stayed behind to protect their property or they were forced to flee from the Valley Fire.

On Wednesday, residents returned home for only 15 minutes at a time to check on their homes and their pets.

The damage from the Valley Fire is evident on Powder Horn Road at Indian Rock Road and in an area called The Ranchos along Honey Hill Drive.

Cheri Johnson returned to check on her family’s cats. She said the cats survived in their house while the neighboring homes burned down.

 “There are no words,” Johnson said. “I’m just so thankful that the house survived. Everything that my daughter owns is in there. That’s all she has.”

Cal Fire Spokesman David Shew said the damage in Hidden Valley Lake is sporadic.

 “It’s on some beautiful rolling hills and unfortunately the fire hit,” Shew said. “This fire was very random and sporadic.”

Shew said unusual burn pattern was due to a number of factors, including winds, homes that had better defensible space, and the efforts of firefighters.

LeRoy Bowser chose to stay behind. He said he and his son stayed up all night on Saturday using water hoses and shovels to put out embers near his property along the Hidden Valley Lake Golf and County Club.

 “It looked like red snow coming down with all the embers,” Bowser said. “That’s the 13th tee and fairway all along up to the 13th hole, all the houses are gone on the north side expect one or two.”

Johnson is just grateful she spent three weeks clearing out debris on her property before the fire hit.

“I think abatement was critical in this house being saved,” she added.

Law enforcement officials were not only escorting people back to their homes, they were patrolling the community for looters.