CALAVERAS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Two buildings have been destroyed and more than 1,455 acres have burned in Calaveras County as firefighters continue to get a handle on the Walker Fire.
It has been burning in dry, rural hills near Carmen City in Salt Spring Valley, where 50 structures are threatened.
“If it jumps this one, there’s nothing between that break and the house,” explained nearby resident Neville Yates.
Since Tuesday night, Neville and Kim Yates have been watching the Walker Fire burn within feet of their Carmen City home, a Calaveras County community with a population in the single digits.
Both said they were grateful for the firefighters and their efforts.
“They bring all of the equipment. You leave. You don’t quite know what you’re going to come back to,” Neville told FOX40. “They protect what you’ve worked hard to earn and it’s humbling.”
Late in the night, the Yateses rushed to gather up their four horses and leave their home as the flames were fast approaching.
“It was like 9 o’clock and it was pitch black dark and all you could see is the hills on fire,” Kim recalled.
“The fire just walked over it and we said, ‘We’re out of here,’” Neville said.
Cal Fire was able to scramble more than 300 personnel to the Walker Fire, attacking it from the ground and the air.
“Overnight two out buildings were destroyed and the fire continues to move to the south,” explained Cal Fire public information officer Emily Kilgore.
By dawn, firefighters were able to make progress and the Yateses returned to their home still standing.
“And we’re lucky,” Neville said.
But they’re not out of danger yet as a Red Flag Warning continues to remain in effect across Northern California and through Thursday.
Helicopters dropped water on hotspots into the early evening as firefighters managed to keep the Walker Fire to just over 1,000 acres by Wednesday night, with increased containment and the lifting of evacuation warnings.
“The wind and the Red Flag conditions really haven’t hampered our efforts to fight the fire. We actually saw a lot of good progress today,” Kilgore said. “And the forward rate of spread has been stopped.”
If the flames return, Neville and Kim said they won’t hesitate to leave but they prayed they won’t have to.
“We won’t leave now unless something dramatic happens,” Neville said.