It was a race against time for more than 6,000 people who were forced to evacuate their homes as the massive fire exploded in size over the last two nights.
Many of these families discovered the fate of their homes by looking at photos and videos posted on social media, including the Wards.
They got married just two weeks ago at the home they were supposed to spend the rest of their lives in. The couple just learned that it was one of the few homes that were destroyed hours after the fire started.
“I see a home, and it’s an inferno, and then an explosion goes off,” explained Steve Ward. “And then she’s looking over my shoulder and this home that we had just got married at two weeks ago it explodes, and you’re looking at it on a mobile phone.”
The Wards’ home was gutted by the fast-moving wildfire in a matter of minutes.
Steve and Andrea Ward walked hand in hand to the place they had their first date, waiting to return to what is left of their home. The couple is unsure of what’s next as they have no insurance to rebuild.
They say insurance companies are either dropping policies or hiking insurance rates for those who live in high-fire risk areas like Mariposa.
“Some of these families have been up here for generations, these are generational homes,” said Steve.
The Wards made their way up to their home on Sunday for the first time since flames tore through it.
What was once a 1,100-foot home overlooking the Mariposa Canyon is now barely recognizable.
Appearing almost unscathed from the debris was a windmill that meant a lot to the couple. The Wards say they are committed to rebuilding their home after it’s safe to do so.
Cal Fire says that there is now more than 2,000 personnel assigned to the fire, with more than 1,700 added since Saturday.
The Oak Fire is the third fire to burn in Mariposa County in the last two weeks and has quickly become bigger than the Washburn and Agua fires combined.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.