Life Slowly Returning To Normal

August 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Roads leading to the most fire damaged areas reopened Friday evening, leaving only 5 homes that remain under evacuation because of the Telegraph Fire. And in another sign things are returning to normal, 450 firefighters were also allowed to return home Friday after being released from the incident.At the last daily briefing at the Midpines Community Center, Mariposa County Sheriff Brian Muller told a crowd of nearly two dozen they could go home. It was news they've waited all week to hear. "Came to everyone to hear if we get the good news that we get to go home and we finally got it tonight," said Mariposa County resident Larry Popken.

Popken lost his garage to the fire, but his home was spared. He was one of the fortunate ones. Howard Watts returned a home that was completely destroyed. "Oh boy, not much left? Here was the front deck here," said Watts, as he surveyed the pile of charred remains where his home once stood.

Those returning home may not have electricity when they return. PG& E crews worked into the evening hours Friday, trying to restore power to the nearly 30 homes still without. They've been working around the clock to replace 75 power poles and three to four miles of transmission lines damaged by fire. Their work can be dangerous. "There is always the possibility of a flare up. Trees that are hazardous could still fall, and the terrain is very, very rough. It's up and down the hillsides," said Kevin Withrow, with PG & E.

As things slowly return to normal in downtown Mariposa, and firefighters slowly leave the area, the community's gratitude toward firefighters, emergency workers, and power crews can be seen everyone. Homemade signs have been placed in front of stores and along roads, thanking them for their hard work.

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