CORDELIA, Calif. (KGO) --On Friday one home burned to the ground and others were badly damaged. A fire fueled by wind and dry conditions spread so quickly, people barely had enough time to escape.
At about 3:45 p.m. a grass fire started in Cordelia along Interstate 680, a short distance from Interstate 80, and quickly spread into a nearby neighborhood.
At 5 p.m. a home caught fire and a handful of firefighters worked to put it out, but by 6 p.m. another structure was destroyed by fire and several fire trucks were on scene fighting the fire with hoses blasting the flames.
An hour later, the house was burned down to the ground and all that remained was a pile of smoking, charred rubble and the field around it was blackened and burned, but the fire was out.
The wind was a problem for firefighters and was moving at 17 mph to the west with gusts up to 25 mph. It was also dry with just 22 percent relative humidity.
One thing that did help firefighters was the numerous water drops a CAL FIRE chopper dropped to help fight the large flames. There were ponds nearby that provided plenty of water.
The Cordelia fire chief corrected the damage report by 11 p.m. and said only one house was lost, which is hard to believe because the town was in flames and chaos just a few hours prior. Fire investigators are still trying to figure out how the fire started.
The fire spread so quickly homeowners didn't have a lot of warning. The home that was completely destroyed was supposed to be the home where Heather and Evan Thornton were going to start their new life together.
"It's hard because we don't really come from much. Our official wedding is in four months and I grabbed my wedding dress. It's expensive, you know, and our clothes and the dog and got out of there, but it was like within minutes and then the house is gone," said Heather.
They lost everything, but the wedding dress.
The winds were blowing and embers were flying across the highway into the fields of Old Town Cordelia.
Cordelia resident Marvin "Corky" Thornton witnessed the fire and said the wind was blowing "at a rapid rate. With this kind of wind and this kind of vegetation, it was like a flame thrower."
Within minutes, firefighters were dealing with a five-alarm fire that burned down one home and four out buildings. Utility poles caught fire pulling down live power lines in the neighborhood.
Hector Argueta thought his home and his dog were gone. When he arrived, his home was still there and Minnie the dog was waiting for him. He said, "I thought the dog was trapped. I was worried for the dog, but look at... they're here. I'm happy, man, to see that dog."
All lanes of Interstate 680 were shut down for more than two hours during Friday rush hour. Residents say fires along the highway are common, but they had never seen it spread this fast.
California fire officials warned that this is something you can expect to see all summer long and said 2014 could turn out to be the worst fire season ever.
To help fight fires, CAL FIRE has an extra $100 million in its budget and has hired 300 extra firefighters.