Oak Fire: Dozens of families return to see their homes destroyed

Kassandra Gutierrez Image
Saturday, July 30, 2022
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The Oak Fire in Mariposa County is spreading dangerously fast and has already destroyed 63 homes and forced more than 6,000 people to evacuate.

As the devastating Oak Fire continues to burn in the Sierra National Forest in Mariposa County, residents are bracing themselves to return home or what is left of it.

Kimberly Vaughan and her husband had been working to pay off their home for years.

It was for their son, Hudson, who lives with cerebral palsy.

Now, they are frustrated and heartbroken that they have to start over.

"It's difficult to feel like we are back at the beginning, so close to his age of independence," she says. "I'm brokenhearted for our community right now."

A GoFundMe has been set up for her.

Despite the devastation, Kimberly remains grateful for the resources and efforts.

Multiple agencies are working around the clock to increase containment lines.

Fire personnel on the ground face steep terrain, dangerous conditions and hot temperatures.

CAL FIRE public information officer Natasha Facts is from the area.

"I do know people that have lost their homes in the Oak Fire, and it is heartbreaking to see how many lives have been affected by this fast-moving fire," Facts said.

Mariposa Health and Human Services are preparing for what's next -debris clean-up and restoration.

Eric Sergienko is with the county's public health.

They are working on its CalRecycle and Cal EPA on Free programs that may become available.

"We ask specifically for people to hold off until they are coming in so they can remove things like television screens communicator monitors other things that can contain heavy metals or other toxins," says Sergienko.

CAL FIRE is suggesting residents do not start cleaning up their homes because it could interfere with insurance claims.

But, if you are returning to a burn site, be cautious as material can be hazardous.

From August 1 through August 3rd, resources on retrieving important documents lost in the fire will be available at Mariposa High School.

Residents say they are resilient and remain 'Mariposa strong.'