Willow Fire evacuees disgusted with burglaries

NORTH FORK, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Willow Fire has consumed more than 5,700 acres. More than 1,300 firefighters are battling the flames and doing what they can to keep the flames away from homes.

All the residents are grateful their homes were not hurt by the fire, and they praised the firefighters. But they are disgusted with the burglars who broke into at least five homes while the owners were evacuated.

Coming home was a relief for most of the evacuated residents, and Renee Halstead was glad to be home and grateful.

Halstead said, "It's been a miracle, that these firefighters have been able to protect us and save us because it came very, very close."

Amy Kern was also glad to find her house still standing. But when she got inside her feelings changed.

Kern said, "Violated and terrified at the same time."

Amy and her family were among those whose homes were burglarized while they were evacuated.

Kern added, "They took my kids piggybanks out of their bedrooms, jewelry out of the jewelry box, ammo out of the garage, DVD's out of the bedroom."

The list of stolen property is long. Not just at this home. Madera County Sheriff's investigators believe five or six houses were hit.

Lt. Bill Ward with the Madera County Sheriff's Department said, "That's what makes this so disgusting, people are doing the right thing trying to stay safe and while they are gone their house gets broken into."

Lt. Bill Ward says deputies were in the area round the clock, they think someone either walked into the community, or was a local resident who didn't evacuate. He's confident an arrested will be made. The danger is incidents like this will prevent others from evacuating when the next fire occurs.

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