Residents waiting for Washington Fire evacuations to lift as crews try to gain control

Wildfire Watch

The Latest – Friday, Aug. 27

7:00 p.m.

The Washington Fire grew to 100 acres and was 25% contained Friday evening, Cal Fire said. 17 structures have been destroyed.

Original story below:

TUOLUMNE COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Fire crews are still working to gain control of the Washington Fire that broke out in Tuolumne County Thursday.

With evacuations still in place, some residents are just waiting to return home. 

“So, just kind of waiting game,” said Ralphie Hansen, who evacuated from the fire. 

Hansen has been sitting in his truck just outside the fire zone on Golf Links Road as the Washington Fire continues to burn. 

“You just have a feeling in your stomach and your throat and hoping that it doesn’t break over and start crawling back down the hill,” Hansen said. “It really sucks but you can’t do anything about it.”

When the fire started on Thursday, Hansen was at work. 

“I left work as fast as I could because no one else was home, so, by the time I got here, they told us you weren’t allowed in the area,” Hansen said. 

So far, 14 structures have reportedly been lost in the fire. 

“This is definitely the worst it has been. Every year there’s usually a fire but it’s a real small one, but this is the biggest one that we’ve had as close to our home,” Hansen said. 

Incident Commander John Zuniga says the area has not burned since 1954 and that they’re facing a number of challenges. 

“It has an immense amount of overstory and understory brush,” Zuniga said. “It’s extreme, rough country. It is steep, very narrow winding roads for all our resources. One way in, one way out.”

According to Zuniga, the fire is also threatening the homes of some of their own. 

“We’ve had multiple our own personnel evacuated in the last few days, from both fires,” Zuniga said. “So, it’s fatigue emotionally and physically.”

For Hansen’s family, it’s been good news so far. 

“We can still see our house so we know it’s still standing, but it’s just a matter of time before we can get back in,” Hansen said. 

But he knows others were not as lucky. 

“It’s devastating because it could have been my house,” Hansen said. 

So far, the cause of the fire remains under investigation and officials are working to notify fire victims as soon as they can. 

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