CHP escorts Valley Fire evacuees to check on homes, animals

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The CHP escorted a group of nervous neighbors back to their ranches near Hidden Valley Lake for the first time Tuesday since the Valley Fire forced them to evacuate. (KGO-TV)

Tuesday was a difficult day for many Lake County residents affected by the Valley Fire. The CHP escorted a group of nervous neighbors back to their ranches near Hidden Valley Lake for the first time.

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The news is good for these neighbors, especially for Hugh Graylund, who heard rumors the Valley Fire left his home in ashes -- not true.

"I'm glad it's still here, we've been here 45 years. We got lucky again," he said.

Graylund, a Korean War vet, added, "So I've survived everything."

DONATIONS: How to help victims of the Valley Fire where you live

Neighbor Herbert Anders was also lucky. "Animals are beautiful, they're sitting there getting fat now." His crew of hungry llamas, miniature donkeys and goats, are OK. They're now feasting on hay.

"Three days, it's too scary, living like this. I wouldn't wish it on anyone," Anders said.

But it was a sad homecoming for John Irwin, who discovered his father's Middletown house in ruins. "He and I built this house in 1983. Dad was born and raised here. He's 80 so he's lived here for 80 years. No sense of crying over spilled milk, we'll just have to rebuild it."

Irwin brought hay to his dad's horses but they are missing from their corral.

Hundreds of people are registering at Lower Lake High School to be escorted in and out by police to check on their animals. The wait is long.

"We're on the list right now. We're number 340 something. It's probably going to be two days before we can get in there," Middletown resident Terri Wood said.

Police escorts have ended for the day but will resume in the morning. A photo ID is required for residents.

Click here for full coverage on the Valley Fire.

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PHOTOS: ABC7 News at the Valley Fire
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