BUTTE COUNTY (CBS13) – Day two in shelters across Butte County due to a wildfire meant some are growing weary. Nearly 100 have been sheltered in hotels and more than that are still waiting for shelter.
Those in shelters said they are watching media coverage and seeing others go home worrying they themselves will not have anything to return to.
“I’ve survived four different fires up there until this one and now I don’t even know if my home is still standing at this point,” Denise Hendrickson said.
Hendrickson said she was up early Thursday walking her dog and feeding her mother’s birds. They are living out of their cars at the Butte County Fairgrounds after a fire ripped through their neighborhood along Lake Oroville and Feather Falls.
Hendrickson said she is feeling lucky after initially not heeding evacuation orders.
“Eight of us had to go down to the end of our road and go in the sand and get down in the water to avoid the fire,” she said.
Hendrickson shot video as flames fused to form a raging inferno.
“We watched trees right there beside us go up and embers fly across the lake and where it touched it set off new fires on every mountainside around the lake,” she said
They managed to escape during a break. Others didn’t wait that long.
“The smoke was too bad to stay there,” Michael Chill said.
Chill said he, his wife and brother-in-law were basically camping with some neighbors and their children. They are from right below Forbestown and traveled with nine dogs and a bunny.
Chill said he, like many, is hoping for the best after the worst fire season in his 30 years in the area.
“Only in the last four to five years has the wind come up like that this time of year,” he said. “It’s bad wind is blowing 40-50 miles per hour. Any sparks and it’s done.”
Finding shelter can’t happen soon enough for those living in their cars without an RV. In the age of COVID-19, evacuation shelters do not have showers. After two days of roughing it, evacuees are anxious to get home and assess the damage
“I will try to go back today,” Chill said.
Hendrickson fears her home is gone. And with no insurance, she said she has no reason to stay in the golden state.
“So there is no more fear, there is no more ‘God, I’ve got nothing left.’ I don’t care. I’m outta here,” she said. “I can go somewhere else and rebuild.”