Creek Fire: Firefighters battling blaze in the communities they call home

SHAVER LAKE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Captain Steve McQuillan is working to stop the flames from reaching Shaver Lake - the community he's called home since 2013.

"I've never thought a day like this would come, we've trained and trained but its one of those things you never dreamed... nightmare that would happen," said McQuillan. "We're just every day holding our breath literally I mean in the morning you look outside wwhat'sit going to be like today."

McQuillan's Shaver Lake Fire Department is one of six volunteer fire stations on the hill. Many of them have lost their homes in the Creek Fire and are still working to protecting others.

He says, "it'll be interesting to see how many of us will be supporting each other."

CAL FIRE assessment teams are now surveying the damage done in the west village of Shaver Lake. McQuillan is also now reflecting on the first moments of this fire as he faced off with a towering inferno.

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"Within 40 minutes of seeing columns of smoke, we had 100-foot walls of flame coming up that hill and there were a lot of engines," he described.

In addition to their rigs, crews with Cal OES helped them stop the flames before damaging any structures that first night. It was the next day that wind picked up embers, which started spot fires in the area, burning several homes to their foundation.

McQuillan says the loss is tragic, but thanks to the hundreds of firefighters battling the Creek Fire, the devastation isn't nearly what it could have been.

He adds, "it's a team effort. Without everyone, this thing doesn't get stopped and I'm looking at houses here and that's because of what they did."

That team effort could also be seen flying above the Creek Fire as a low-pressure system blew away some of the smoke - allowing aircraft to return to the firefight.

While fire progression slowed going into Wednesday, Cal Fire warns containment remains difficult, especially with high temperatures, low humidity and strong wind.

Cal Fire PIO Seth Brown says, "they can throw fire brands or embers a quarter-mile up to a half-mile away in front of the fire."

He also said the most critical areas of the fire include the southern portion near the Meadow Lakes area and the southeast portion where some of the most recent evacuations took place near Tollhouse.
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