Fork Fire: Madera County woman refuses to evacuate

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Friday, September 9, 2022
Fork Fire: Madera County woman refuses to evacuate
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Kris Hamilton has been through two wildfires. Now she's hoping for more firefighters locally but until then, she chooses to stay and protect her home.

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Kris Hamilton has been through wildfires before, having lost her home in 2017 to the Mission Fire and facing the Creek Fire after rebuilding her home in 2019.

On Wednesday night, Kris watched in horror with her neighbors from her back deck once again.

She says she saw several homes burn to the ground as the Fork Fire tore through parts of North Fork.

RELATED: Fork Fire: Containment grows,, 1000+ Madera Co. residents under evacuation orders, warnings

"I know what these people are in for and insurance doesn't solve it all. And what's most heartbreaking is we just don't have a local staffed fire department, and that's a conscious choice from Madera County."

But Kris refuses to leave her home, saying it's a risk she is willing to take.

"We and a few others opted to not evacuate because we understand the consequences, you weigh your pros and cons," Kris says.

In 2017, 56% of voters voted no on Measure L, money that would have gone in part to County fire Stations and staffing.

But with increased fires over the past two years, Kris and other community members are hoping for a different outcome in the future.

"Honestly it's really infuriating, I have been through this and now many many more in my community are going through this," Kris says.

She says, as the fire danger grows, so does concern among the community. The wildfires are getting more destructive every year, and many of her neighbors are just now discovering that the North Fork fire station is only staffed with two volunteer firefighters.

"There's nothing like coming to your property and nothing is taller than 6 inches, and you get to dig through that rubble, and maybe you are looking for your pets..... it's unconscionable," Kris says.

Kris and her neighbors are hoping to bring more attention to the lack of fire preparedness in their community, explaining that the nearest staffed fire station is six miles down the mountain, which is just too far for some.

But until then, she chooses to stay and protect her home.