YUBA COUNTY (CBS13) – Thousands of Yuba County evacuees are waiting to find out if their homes are still standing.
Many of them came to the area around the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds, many having to leave in the middle of the night with only the clothes on their back. They’re worried about loved ones left behind and livestock.
“We were able to grab what we could and as we were coming down the ridge…we saw a glow…in minutes…we were in danger!” said Cassandra MIntzas.
Mintzas clutched her dog Brewster as she talked about escaping the Willow Fire. She said they left their property and their livestock behind.
“It was a little traumatic,” she said.
Carla Jara with Yuba Health/Human Services is the on-site manager at the fairgrounds.
“They’re frantic. They don’t have anywhere to go-even somewhere safe,” said Jara. “They just want to park their car rest their eyes,”
As fire evacuees checked in, they wore masks and tried to maintain social distancing.
“We have restrooms on-site and animal services on -ite,” she said. “Some have brought their trailers.”
COVID-19 has changed everything when it comes to emergency response for not just county and state agencies but the American Red Cross as well.
“Our goal is to get everybody housed into non-congregated shelters, meaning hotels,” said American Red Cross spokesman Darren Courtney.
But when it came down to neighbors helping neighbors, it didn’t matter for retired nurse Angela Sgarlata and her husband who’s a former volunteer firefighter.
“It’s all about humanity,” said Angela. “These people there are in their 70’s and 80’s.”
“Everything went out the window. You don’t think about it. You just do what you gotta do,” said her husband.
Last night, they shuttled 60 seniors — some with medical conditions — from their RV park in Clipper Mills down the hill to safety
“We made sure they had what they needed and got their documents together,” said Angela. “They didn’t struggle because we made sure they didn’t.”
They then braved driving through flames of the Bear Fire and the Willow Fire to get to the evacuation shelter and waited for updates about their community. They were hoping for the best but fearing the worst.
“My Dad stayed with the property and we think the electricity is off because we can’t get to him,” Mintzas said.