The Latest on the Kincade Fire as of Tuesday at 6:45 p.m.:
Cal Fire officials say the Kincade Fire has burned 76,138 acres and destroyed 189 structures, which include 86 homes. It is 15% contained. Just over 90,000 structures are being threatened by the flames.
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KTXL) -- As the Kincade Fire rages on, thousands of evacuees are waiting for word that they can go back home.
After seeing firsthand the devastation caused by the wine country fires in 2017, Dawnell Binkley said she knew how important it was to be prepared this fire season.
"It was not anything I had ever seen before,” said Binkley. “I had most everything ready to go. I had my car packed for the water, the food, in case we needed to go and there was nowhere to stay.”
But there was one thing most people living in the evacuation zones refused to leave home without.
“You know, you could lose the house, how are you going to replace your pets? Your love?” said Binkley.
That’s why hundreds of evacuees came to the Sonoma County fairgrounds.
“This is the only place we can have our dogs, so I would have slept in my car if I had to,” said evacuee Linda Dillon.
Hundreds of people have spent the last couple nights sleeping on cots with their dogs, cats, even birds beside them in cages and crates.
"It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a shelter in my life," said Dillon. "I have my own home in Healdsburg. I’ve lived there for 37 years and it was a little scary at first, but it’s just people, everyday people that are evacuated. Everybody is pitched in together and everybody helps each other.”
Dillon said the American Red Cross has kept people comfortable during a very uncomfortable time.
"It’s been really, really hard and they treat you so good. They gave us bags with everything we needed to take, body washes with toothbrushes, everything," said Dillon.
Volunteers were even getting people the medications they may have left behind while evacuating.
While many people wait anxiously to find out if they will have homes to return to, they told FOX40 they’re just grateful for this safe place to rest their heads.
“Don’t be afraid if you end up having to come to a shelter like I was because it can be good, it can be good," said Dillon. "It’s a good experience. It’s a wake-up call for everyone to know we’re this much away from not having anything.”
American Red Cross volunteers said as of Tuesday morning, they were still accepting pets at the shelter.
There is also a separate, larger shelter at the fairgrounds where hundreds of people are sleeping without pets.