Madera County residents return home after brush fire forces evacuations

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Families returned to their homes Sunday night after the Sundance Fire burned 13 acres in Madera County and forced evacuations. (KFSN)

Families returned to their homes Sunday night after the Sundance Fire burned 13 acres near Oakhurst and forced evacuations. The cause of the Madera County fire is still under investigation.

In an area dense with homes, fire helicopters weave through the trees. They're working quickly to douse hot spots, as hand crews on the ground put out flames.

"The next step is to make sure we have a line completely around it, all our hot spots are out. You can see it's still smoking, so the potential for the fire to continue is very high at this point," said Karen Guillemin of Cal Fire.

Crews said the blaze came close to homes. Luckily, no structures were destroyed. But during the height of the fire, pilots carrying precious retardant were forced to land because of a drone.

"During the time that the person thought so little about everybody else around him and decided to put that drone in the air, we had two spot fires, so all of our aircraft had to land and get away from this fire," said Guillemin.

Smoke from a brush fire in Madera County is seen on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015.


Firefighters were able to quickly get back to work once the drone flew away, but it could've caused a lot of damage. If it crashed into a plane, Cal Fire crews said someone could've been killed.

"Destruction of homes and people's dreams and all their memories that they keep in those homes because of your selfishness and your inability to follow the rules," said Guillemin.

The dozens of families who were forced to evacuate got to return home late Sunday night. The American Red Cross closed its shelter shortly after the evacuation orders were lifted.

"We're ready for anything, we're ready for multi-shelters, so that's what we've been working on really diligently is to make sure we have a fast response," said shelter manager Sandy Morehouse of the American Red Cross.

On the ground, crews are staying through the night and into the morning because this fight doesn't end until the threat is destroyed.
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