Some Residents Return to Nothing but Rubble as Wall Fire Evacuations are Lifted

BUTTE COUNTY -- Wednesday was the first day people with homes inside the Wall Fire's burn area were allowed back into their neighborhoods. More than 5,800 acres burned and 41 homes were destroyed.

"The fire actually started up on the ridge, way up on the ridge up there," said Franz Longsworth

Longsworth said when he left his home on Crestview Drive on Friday, it didn't look good.

"The whole mountain was a towering inferno," he said.

He and his wife got out, but that didn't stop the worrying. While they were evacuated he kept telling himself one thing.

"If it's gone, God is great. If it is there, God is greater," he said.

At noon on Wednesday, relief -- his house was still standing.

"There's no heat damage or anything to the tank," he said.

Although his property is completely charred, with black grass right up to his back steps, it appears the fire burned around his house and garage.

"I don't have the words to explain it, it's just what it is," Longworth said.

But not everyone was so lucky.

"Oh look here, that's the washer," said James Baker.

Some of Longsworth's neighbors lost their homes.

"That burned, there's nothing left," Baker said.

"That was the trailer, the cabin was right here. I had a dog house here," he said.

All of it gone -- just one of 41 homes the Wall Fire claimed.

"I mean it must have jumped in plumes you know?" Baker said.

He says nothing is salvageable, most items he hardly recognizes.

"This is my new stove, there's nothing left of that," he said.

Because it's a summer home, Baker says he likely won't rebuild.

"What you call gone with the wind," Baker said.

However, Longsworth says he is paying it forward to his neighbors, offering them a free place to stay while they rebuild.

"The few of us that have a remaining property, it is for us to share and to help those who are less fortunate," he said.