Humboldt Fire Takes Dangerous Turn

6/13/2008 Fresno, CA ----------------------------------------------------------------
Fire Details
- Over 8,000 acres burned
- More than 1,600 structures threatened
- Several hundred homes near Chico evacuated
- Fire is about 10% contained

The fire is right outside paradise, a town with nearly 30,000 residents. Several Valley firefighters are battling this fire and Thursday, they saved lives as homes burned.

After a full day without a single structure lost, luck finally ran out. "About two o'clock the winds changed and started going up canyon. They accelerated from about 10-miles an hour to about 40-miles an hour," said Fresno Firefighter Time Henry.

Thursday afternoon dozens of homes burned to the ground. A member of Fresno County's special strike team battling the fire witnessed the destruction first hand. "I seen at least twenty to thirty maybe even forty homes that have burnt today and a couple of commercial buildings that are gone; and just hundreds and hundreds of vehicles."

Fresno County has two crews battling the fire along with ten engines.

So far the blaze has swept through 8,000 acres of brush and trees near the Chico area and it's nowhere near contained. Helicopters and air tankers are working furiously to douse the flames but it's been a losing battle.

The fire has been growing so quickly firefighters are calling for continuous evacuations.

Fresno City Batallion Chief Tim Henry said his crew has to make split second decisions rescuing people from their and then trying to retrieve valuables before the flames drive them away, "What we attempt to do is enter the house, maybe save a few of the photographs or personal belongings and move them out in an area that's either burnt or on a concrete slab and try to cover them up so maybe it'll be there when they come back. It's not much.... But it's something."

The strike teams from Fresno County will work through the night tonight and then rest for 24 hours before heading back to the fire lines.

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