Huntington Lake homeowners allowed to visit burned properties for first time

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The drive into Huntington Lake shows the erratic nature of the Creek Fire with some areas unscathed and others black and barren.

The shops and cabins near the marina are still standing, but just a little further west large trees are completely uprooted, and dozens of homes are destroyed.

"It's not total devastation like I thought it might be. Unfortunately, it's just this little spot," says Paul Hanchett.

Hanchett has owned a vacation property in the Huckleberry tract for the past eight years, where his entire family gathered to enjoy time together.

He says, "It's devastating because it was the memories, and the whole reason we purchased the cabin was so we could develop memories."

The Hanchett's were among those allowed to return Tuesday to survey the damage in person, but they could only stay for a matter of hours because the area remains under evacuation orders.

Some spots are still smoldering, while crews are working to remove hazards and increase containment.

"We do have active fire still in north, northeast above Huntington, and we do have crews that are going to be going direct," says Captain Emmanuel Sanchez from the Fresno City Fire Department, who is serving as a Creek Fire Information Officer.

Captain Chavez says that means work will continue on the ground to create solid fire breaks and protect the properties that are still threatened. He adds while the destruction is widespread, the number of structures saved is also remarkable.

"Knowing that this is the largest fire in California history and that the firefighters put their strong foot forward and went to work day and night and saved over 96% of the structures in this area is amazing," says Sanchez.
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