COLFAX, Calif. (KTXL) — As firefighters continue to contain the destructive River Fire, residents in the Colfax area are still trying to cope with what happened to their community in a matter of hours.
“There were trees exploding right in front of us,” said resident Justin Ward.
Ward was hiking in the Rollins Lake area when a smoke plume got closer than he anticipated. He saw a monstrous wall of flame and smoke, which were the beginnings of the River Fire.
“I ran,” Ward said.
Even though the fire changed directions and his house is safe, the constant fire threat is getting to him.
“Remodel my house, sell it and move,” Ward said. “I’ve doing this for 16 years and I’m tired of it.”
On White Oak Drive off Highway 174, Placer County crews were placing properties off-limits, declaring them total losses.
“Really frustrating,” said Dale Huber.
Huber, a civil engineer, had been helping his brother assess his losses and plan to rebuild. But he and his brother had to hike in and sneak past roadblocks, which were meant to combat looting and keep the public out.
“I’m at the point of saying pull out your books and tell me what fines I’m breaking and just send me a ticket in the mail,” Huber said. “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”
Placer County crews surveyed properties Friday, marking places off-limits. Although, it did not apply to fire crews.
The fire raced through the town two days ago, but firefighters are still on scene at individual properties making sure the fire does not reignite.
Placer County Sheriff’s deputies did escort some homeowners in so they could retrieve vital items like medicines, but homeowner David Beavers was already at his house because he never evacuated.
“I was extremely nervous but we were ready to go. But luckily it didn’t cross our line and we were able to stay and hold it out,” Beavers said.
Beavers is a Sacramento firefighter who says he is glad he stayed. He was able to take pictures for evacuated neighbors who wanted to know about their homes.
Resident Lizz Porter was happy to get the pictures.
“Fire-wise, everything is gone so that part is done,” Porter said. “Because otherwise, I would be sitting here wondering if our house was OK.”
Porter can now move on to the next step as hard as that is.