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Residents in Clearlake Oaks Decide Whether to Stay or go as Ranch Fire Nears

CLEARLAKE OAKS -- More evacuations caused by the Mendocino Complex fires, as towns like Clearlake Oaks are being told to leave because of the Ranch Fire, residents are deciding whether to pack their stuff and go or stay and wait it out.

As some people were heading out of town in Clearlake Oaks, several said they’ve lived there for decades and have never seen the area like this. They are now praying the flames will stay away from their community.

Bambi Wilde has been through this before. Just last week she evacuated her home in Lakeport to Lucerne because of the River Fire and because of Friday’s evacuation due to the Ranch Fire, she’s on the move again, this time to Santa Rosa

“I’d like to go back home. I just hope I don’t get all the way down there and they tell us, ‘oh, you guys can come back now,’” said Wilde.

As she sets out to head farther away from the fire, Wilde is stung by how close she has been all week to being able to go home.

“Anybody from parkway on can go back home and we are like a block away, so we can’t go home. How tough is that for you? Tough. All my belongings and stuff are there. I have all the animals with me. It’s just sad,” Wilde said.

Victoria Bicardo has lived in the Clearlake Oaks area for around 40 years, she says this is the first-time flames have come this close to town and she is planning on waiting it out at home.

There’s a lot of us that are saying our prayers that this just escapes us. We’re a vortex though. It’s just coming down the road and over the hill. So, we’re hoping that it holds over the hill. We’re at mother nature’s behest. If she decides to come this way, the firemen don’t have much of a say about it,” said Bicardo.

Bicardo says a lot of the older people in the community have made their way out of Clearlake Oaks and she has her boat ready by the water in case the flames change course.

“I think we’re going to be ok. I know everybody is praying. The sweet girl in here is from my church so we’ve got that prayer chain going, so good lord willing the fire people are going to be able to hold it,” Bicardo said.

Cal Fire said the evacuation was put in place because there are concerns that the fire can change course and hook back around towards the lake and they wanted to ensure there was enough time for people to get out and prep the area in case the fire did change course.

Over the past week, Michelle Scott has encountered both fires that make up the Mendocino Complex. Last week was the River Fire, which came close to the Taco Bell she is a general manager of in Lakeport.

“We were in full blast there, closed up everything and got out of there,” said Scott.

Scott has been evacuated from her home in Lucerne because of the ranch fire, and is now headed to Santa Rosa unsure of what will happen at the place she’s called home for 50 years

“It’s an overwhelming feeling,” Scott stated.

Scott says while there have been evacuations in the past, she has never seen the entire area near the lake cleared out. She packed up her Husky and a few belongings in case the fire makes it to her home

Scott knows the area will be different whenever she returns, but she hopes she will still be able to call it home

Many of the people FOX40 spoke to thanked the fire crews and law enforcement for their work in making sure they are safe. Some that we spoke to said they would stay behind despite the mandatory evacuation, because they were afraid once they left, they would not be able to come back in for several days.