PLACERVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) — The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said Thursday 23,000 people have been evacuated due to the Caldor Fire.
“It’s bigger — they’re saying it is bigger than the city of Sacramento,” said Melinda Muir, who is evacuating from the Caldor Fire.
For Muir and her family, coming close to wildfires is not unfamiliar to them. In 2016, they escaped the Sand Fire in Santa Clarita County. Now, Muir’s husband and five children are among the thousands of evacuees escaping from the Caldor Fire.
“We got here Tuesday morning at 1:30 in the morning,” Muir said. “Right now, it’s not anywhere near us — but you know, you never know if the wind shifts, we could be in trouble.”
As they settled down at an American Red Cross evacuation site near Missouri Flat Road in Placerville, Muir said care and compassion for others during this difficult time are being seen through organizations and good people.
“I’m struggling to find a place for all of my animals, and this couple just left a note on my car and stepped forward and took all of my animals, so I don’t have to separate them,” Muir said.
People like Veterans Outreach Program Specialist Tim Whalen, who travels to different encampments to provide veterans and their families resources, are quickly seeing the impacts these wildfires are having on local residents.
“There’s strong, positive thinking and then there’s the fear of the unknown, so it’s a big mixture and I’ve seen the extremes,” Whalen said.
As the number of evacuees grows, so do the number of questions, said the Red Cross of Northern California.
“I think the big thing they want right now is information,” Red Cross spokesperson Stephen Walsh said. “Everybody is asking, ‘When can I go home? When are we going to get information?’ But luckily, law enforcement comes to the shelters every day to give an update on the fire.”
One of the biggest obstacles during this fire season is having people understand why these evacuations are occurring in places where no fire is present at the time, California Highway Patrol officials said.
“Some of those questions are, ‘Why can’t I go? There’s no fire here. Why can’t I go up to where my house is?’ And the reason is because there could be something around the corner that you don’t know about,” CHP Chief Mike Dust said. “There’s fire apparatus, there’s hoses across roads, there’s downed power lines and power poles. There’s all kinds of things that need to be mitigated and restored before we can open those roads.”
In the meantime, families like the Muirs must cling on to hope once more.
“I have to trust that God is going to continue to be by me and walk beside me and not leave,” Muir said.