Families Forced to Evacuate After Butte Fire Grows to 64,728 Acres Burned

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Smoke plumes are growing across Calaveras and Amador Counties as the Butte Fire continues to destroy everything in its path.

The town of San Andreas was put under an evacuation advisory Friday. Fire officials are urging people to be prepared to leave.

Mother of two, Alexis Woodruff packed up her car and moved her family out of their house in Amador County.

“Losing everything you own and having to replace everything is a scary thought,” she said.

The evacuation shelter at San Andreas Town Hall was overwhelmed by those looking for protection from the out of control flames. The space was too small to handle the hundreds of people. American Red Cross had to relocate people to the following shelters:

  • Veteran’s Hall – 189 Pine St., Valley Springs
  • Good Samaritan Church – 4684 Baldwin St., Valley Springs
  • Burson Fire Department – 3255 Helisma Rd., Burson
  • Jackson Rancheria Hotel – 12222 New York Ranch Rd, Jackson
  • San Andreas Town Hall – 24 Church Hill Rd, San Andreas
  • Amador County Fairgrounds – 18621 Sherwood St, Plymouth

Town Hall will stay open until Saturday as an information center, but according to volunteer Jaime Castillo there will not be any beds.

Through the haze of the fire there’s a bright spot as strangers lend a helping hand. Jamie Levingston came to San Andreas from Galt. She doesn’t have an animal shelter or a trailer she just heard the pleas and came to help move animals out of the fire zone.

“I would want help if it was my home. They’re our neighbors of course we’re going to come and help,” said Levingston.

VCA animal hospitals in Northern California are offering free board for small animals affected by the Butte Fire. Large animals can be taken to the Fairgrounds in Angel Camp.

Peter Pelosi is not a Firefighter. He’s a garbage man. But he’s been watching the Butte fire sear the mountainside in front of his San Andreas home all day. Friday’s rapid growth from 30,000 to nearly 65,000 acres is putting the entire town on mandatory evacuation.

“It’s almost like a game show you know 3 minutes to get out and grab what you can,” said Pelosi.

But Pelosi didn’t play that game. He stayed put on his property and watched his neighbors.

“I see these people packing up everything they’ve got and they’re gonna have to go put it back in a couple days,” said Pelosi.

“Those evacuation orders have been lifted,” said Steve Airola.

In the mere three hours it took Cal Fire to lift those mandatory evacuations, Steve Airola had already met with firefighters blazing a trail through town on a mini dirt bike.

“It gets me around fast. How fast does it go? Too fast,” said Airola

Cal Fire says temperatures, humidity and winds are preventing them from fighting at the fire’s edge, but neighbors are getting some relief knowing these guys are still fighting hard.

“Yes, I know they’re still out there with bulldozers cutting hand lines and out burning back fires,” said Airola.

And despite the dire circumstances they’re still reassuring neighbors they’ll be alright.

“I didn’t stop worrying, but he said we’re gonna get through this so, when he said that,” said Pelosi.

Mandatory evacuation orders in Calaveras County are: Town of Mokelumne Hill, East of Hwy 49 from the Amador/Calaveras County line South to Goldstrike Road.  South on Goldstrike Road to the Community of San Andreas.  Rural areas East of San Andreas to Mountain Ranch Road.  Mountain Ranch Road to Calaveritas Road to Fourth Crossing.  Fourth Crossing to Hwy 49.  East side of Hwy 49 South to North side of Hwy 4 (Angels Camp).  North side of Hwy 4 East to Town of Arnold.  All of SR 26 from Mokelumne Hill North to the Amador/Calaveras County line.  To include the communities of Glencoe, Westpoint, and Wilseyville.

Mandatory evacuation orders in Amador County are: Canyon View, Fig Tree Lane, and Ponderosa Way; the Town of Pine Grove to include all areas South of Hwy 88 from West Clinton Road, East to Ranch Drive.  Inclusive of the Communities of Ranch House Estates, Pine Acres, Jackson Pines, Pine Drove Ranchettes and Lake Tabeau.

Mandatory evacuation orders in San Andreas are: Pope Street, West Murray, Lewis Avenue, Miller, San Andreas Elementary, Mountain Ranch Road to Windmill, Gold Hunter Subdivision.

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