Bear Fire explodes in size killing three, burning Butte County communities

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(KTXL) — In Butte County, three people died and over 100 people had to be rescued as the Bear Fire exploded in size. 

Along Oro Quincy Highway, thousands of people left their homes behind as flames quickly spread. 

“It’s scary,” said evacuee Mary Hanan. 

The Bear Fire has already left its mark on Butte County in just the last 24 hours, charring cars, downing power lines and destroying homes. 

According to the Butte County Sheriff’s Office, not only did three people die but there are still some missing. At the time of a 6 p.m. briefing Wednesday, at least 12 people were still missing in Butte County.

“Our community is, unfortunately, becoming accustomed to this. I certainly hoped after the Camp Fire that I wouldn’t be back up here talking with you about a wildland fire of this magnitude,” said Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea. 

“At 1:30 this morning, our phones blew up. It was Yuba County OES and everybody else saying, ‘You need to evacuate now,’” said evacuee Peter Langdon. 

For former volunteer firefighter Peter Langdon, he was not taking any chances. 

“This trailer is fully loaded with stuff. It was just a matter of loading up the horses and getting out in time,” Langdon told FOX40. 

He was one of thousands of Butte County homeowners ordered to evacuate, feeling suffocated by anxiety of not knowing if he would have a home to return to. 

“You’re just living on pins and needles this fire season and the fires are getting worse,” Langdon said. 

Some families were waiting out the flames at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds, having taken with them all they could carry.

“When there’s a big glow behind the mountain, what are you going to do, sit and wait? So, we got out. I have kids, I have animals. I take them out,” Hanan said.

“I want to get back home like everybody else. There’s no such thing as normal in 2020, is there?” she continued

At least one community has been hit hard by the Bear Fire. 

Berry Creek resident Omar Corwin had decided to stay behind but ended up evacuating at the last moment. 

“Because of my friend that persuaded me. His love like, ‘Come on, dude, you can’t die. You got responsibility. You got people that love you,” Corwin said. 

Not long after Corwin left, his home burned. 

“No words you could put together to describe what I’m feeling right now,” Corwin said. 

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