Corral Fire: Tracy evacuation order downgraded, anxious residents check homes

After a frightening weekend with flames racing close to homes in Tracy, CalFire crews on Sunday said that a mandatory evacuation had been downgraded. 

As of Monday, the fire had scorched 14,000 acres in San Joaquin County and CalFire had contained 75% of the blaze. 

For much of the day, evacuees had lined up waiting to see if their property escaped the worst of Mother Nature’s fury. 

Amanda Momaney and her family were allowed into the neighborhood to gather essentials before leaving, again.

"We came home to get our dogs out of the house. And to get some clothes and stuff," she said. "It’s very scary."

This small neighborhood, just off I-580 and CA-132, was in danger of being wiped off the map. 

The Corral Fire, which started at 1 p.m. Saturday blackened 14,000 acres near Tracy, and cost one family its home. 

It's called that because it started on Corral Hollow Road near the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Site 300.  

"They were able to evacuate. They took the dogs and the turtle. And they’re at the Motel 6 right now, trying to figure out how much damage is done," said evacuee Travis Curtiss.

He has the unenviable task of telling his parents their home of nearly 30 years is now smoldering ash..

"You give them a really big hug. So that’s all you can do is just be there, be supportive and help them rebuild," he said.

Other residents escaped with little or no damage at all. But the ordeal has been harrowing.

One family will see growth pains, literally, later this week all while worrying if they’ll still have a house to call home.

"My wife is pregnant. We are expecting this week a delivery. And she is in the car. No option," said Amit Kumar, as he stood in the midday sun at a sheriff’s checkpoint. 

Added his wife, Kanika, "It’s so scary because I’m having a baby. I’m too scary for that. And I’m really thankful save our lives and house."

Some in this rural subdivision decided on Saturday to stay, and face the possible end without blinking.

Angel F., who didn’t want to give his full last name, says his mother and aunts left, but he and his uncles and father waited it out all night.

"Can’t run from everything. It’s life. It’s part of the… like I said, you can see everything burned. There’s nothing we could do. There’s nothing they could do. We all tried our best," he said.

For this small section of the Central Valley, emotions run the gamut, from anxiety to relief to the resignation that in fire season, many things are beyond being controlled.

"They’re alive. The dog’s alive. The turtle is alive. So, you can’t replace that. All this you can replace," said Curtiss.

Cal Fire officials said all lanes of eastbound I-580 reopened at 6 p.m. as well. 

But affected neighborhoods remain closed to those who are not residents.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on Instagram, @jessegontv