Cache Fire victims say they had no warning, path of fire's destruction 'stunning'

ByCornell W. Barnard KGO logo
Friday, August 20, 2021
'I had to get out': Cache Fire victims say they had no warning
Lake County wildfire evacuees say flames came so fast, they had no choice but leave immediately.

CLEARLAKE, Calif. (KGO) -- We're getting new perspectives on a fast-moving wildfire, which raced through a Lake County neighborhood Wednesday, burning an estimated 50 homes in its wake.

The Cache Fire moved so fast, there was little time for homeowner Todd Black to react.

"It was a flash fire, I didn't have any warning, I had to get out," said Black.

TAKE ACTION: Tips for how to help and stay safe during and after a wildfire

Officials say every available firefighter tried to stop the wall of flames, but they could not save two mobile home parks in Clearlake from ruin.

"I know there was a lot of heroics yesterday, rescuing people and animals, people had to move fast. The fire's pace was stunning," said Jacquline Snyder from Lake County Fire Protection District.

Also stunning, is the scope of the destruction. As far as you can see up to 50 homes, reduced to rubble. A charred bicycle is one of the few things still recognizable.

VIDEO: Safety tips to remember when returning home after wildfire

As residents return to see what remains, there are some very specific safety precautions to keep in mind.

But in the middle of this moonscape, a sign of life.

A cat, singed and injured by the fire was found huddled against one of the few homes still standing. Animal control came to the rescue to give it care.

But the danger here, still very real.

"Because of the wind we're not out of the woods, there is still active fire we're going to make sure it's safe before we let people go home," said Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin.

RELATED: Contra Costa Co. fire officials urge residents to pack evacuation kits

Martin believes everyone got out safely from the neighborhood.

"I've been ready since the first fire hit two months ago," said Kelly, an evacuee.

Kelly got out just in time. Her pickup is a handwritten tribute to firefighters. Her home survived, but her relatives were not so lucky.

"My aunt's house burned, my cousin's house burned, there's nothing left, nothing," she said.

An evacuation center is set up at Kelseyville High School at 5480 Main Street in Kelseyville and many evacuated residents are in the cars in the nearby Clearlake Walmart parking lot.

An evacuation center is set up at Kelseyville High School at 5480 Main Street in Kelseyville.

Residents in the following zones are under the evacuation orders:



Residents can check their zone here or in the map below.

For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window

The following roads are close in Lake County:

Lake Street at Damn Road

Dam Road at Jack in the Box

Northbound Hwy. 53 at Hwy. 29

Main Street Lower Lake at Hwy 53/29

Northbound Hwy. 29 at Spruce Grove North

Point Lakeview Road at Soda Bay Road

Southbound Hwy. 29 at Soda Bay Road

Southbound Hwy 29 at Siegler Canyon Road

Southbound Hwy 53 at Damn Road

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window