Search for Missing Hiker Complicated by Growing King Fire

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The King Fire is hampering the efforts of a family who has been searching for their son in the El Dorado National Forest for three months.

"I am Vernon Cody Matthews mom," Cyndi Matthews said.

In June, her then 23-year-old son walked into the woods behind their Pollock Pines vacation cabin and never walked back out. Rescue crews thoroughly searched the area for eight days.

"A lot of locals attached with the sheriff's department were going out and spending their own time looking. Or at least they were, until the fire," Cyndi said.

Somewhere within the canyon full of fire, any possible trace of the missing hiker has likely been destroyed.

"It's a little hard to take. Sorry. We'll just keep looking," Cyndi said.

In comparison to losing her son, the 81,000 acre and growing King Fire felt small to Cyndi. She said this to FOX40, having just learned that her own home in the White Meadows neighborhood was fire damaged.

"Even though they weren't willing to confirm it, we knew our houses had burned. We saw it. If you've got binoculars and see you your property burst into flames no one can tell you it's not, because you know it's yours," Cyndi said.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's office confirmed Friday that some structures in the White Meadows neighborhood had been damaged. They did not confirm that any houses had been lost.

"People will say you're lying, there's no confirmation. Well I saw it happen. We're mountain folk, and we're  not really gonna wait around for them to find out."

Cyndi took FOX40 to a lookout point where she says she and her neighbors confirmed their worst fears first hand.

"We watched as each house burned with binoculars. So we know," Cyndi said.

The vacation cabin had just become the Matthews primary residence. She and her husband quit their jobs to search for their son full-time. They recently moved from their old home in Southern California.

"So this is our home, our only home, and now it's not here," said Cyndi.

With her last ties to Pollock Pines now seemingly up in smoke, Cyndi and her husband find strength in  the things they don't have.

"If we don't have a body, if we don't have a crime scene, nothing saying he's dead, we're assuming he's alive," said Cyndi.

It's why they celebrated their son's 24th birthday this Wednesday doing something he would love. The Matthews paddled a canoe out on Jenkinson Lake. In a photo, smoke blooms above the trees as Cyndi smiles at a picture of her son.

"We're hoping he's just not here. Because if he's here then he's not with us anymore," said Cyndi.

The Matthews are currently camping along Highway near Pollock Pines. They are in need of a running travel trailer to continue search efforts for their son. If you can provide assistance, email: