A nightmare in the light of day – flames melting through what many along Fairfield’s Marigold Drive thought would be a normal Tuesday afternoon.
It turned out to be anything but.
“I was just panicking … I didn’t know where my kids were,” said mom Bianca Gaines.
Gaines was at school picking up one child when she was gripped with fear, trying to figure out what was happening with her other girls at home.
She learned about the chaos of a 7-alarm fire via text after her deaf uncle’s little dog Louie alerted him that something was wrong.
“His dog started barking and he went to the back of the house and saw the smoke so he grabbed her and ran out the house, she said.
Getting families out of the way of the raging fire was top priority after some spark along Interstate 80 East ignited a fire that spread to six homes.
Two of them were destroyed, four others suffered damage.
Daniel Ringgenburg hit ‘record’ on his camera phone as he raced to help. He spotted the smoke on his way home from work.
“I just went and grabbed people who were standing close and I said get out go go run,” he said.
“With the winds like this, and once the winds start swirling and the fire creates its own wind … there were several fires going at the same time,” said Fairfield Fire Captain Bobby Silva.
Three hours in crews from Benicia to Woodland had helped Fairfield get the blaze 70 percent contained.
Full containment was reached around 9:40 p.m.
Pulling resources together made getting water on the blaze difficult.
“The ordering … and for them to get here we were pretty much on our own for a little bit,” said Silva.
Many of the crews called on for help were already taxed with members battling the 7th largest blaze in California history – the Rim fire.
The situation on Marigold is the only fire the Spears’ hope is ever in their family history.
“The cops were banging on the door telling us we need to evacuate ’cause the fire was almost there,” said Katie Spears.
In addition to being able to make it to this Red Cross evacuation center with her two little kids, Spears also ran from the flames with six of the littlest evacuees – her chiweenie puppies.
She’s just grateful they all still have a place to call home.
“Freaking out … kind of my worst fears, but just found out none of the apartments burned,” she said.
Spears and her family live at the Summit Apartments at the corner of Marigold Drive and North Texas Street.
The fire burned right up the hill to the edge of the parking lot on the north side of the complex – just a few feet from units.