Mariposa County residents slowly return as Detwiler evacuation orders lifted

MARIPOSA, Calif. -- The town of Mariposa is slowly coming alive after the raging Detwiler Fire shut it down for three days.

Intense flames tucked behind some of the historic businesses and homes left many questioning what they would return to-- at least that was the case for the Rudds as they drove through for the first time. The only thing on their mind was finding their home up in Bear Valley in one piece.

"It jumped so quick, it's just unreal. It went to 70,000 acres-- it's just unreal how quick it went," said Stan Rudd, of Bear Valley. "We'll trust in God and go with what we have and what he gives us."

The unforgiving inferno grew from 70,000 acres Thursday to 74,000 acres Friday-- on its sixth day, it is only 15-percent contained. Now, the nearly 4,000 firefighters are facing a new challenge, putting the growing blaze out in the city of Coulterville.

"Firefighters are on the ground, they are making good progress, they are working really hard-- but once again this is steep terrain," said Toni Davis, Cal Fire.

As they do that in rugged areas, assessment crews are taking count of damaged building-- with about 80-percent of it done only 58 structures are destroyed.

However, none of those destroyed structures are businesses in the heart of Mariposa. Jon Zellhoefer, the owner of Bridal Veil Brewing, said he is ready to thank firefighters for saving what some of the people in this town have worked so hard for.

"We really honor our firefighters, so if they do have an opportunity to come in to have a beer-- hey, it's on me."

Cal Fire is still asking some of the businesses to prepare to have to close shop at any point. They said just because the mandatory evacuation order has been lifted there is still an advisory in place.

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When the fire unexpectedly shifted south earlier this week, Pulido only had four minutes to get out.

Meanwhile, some residents are coming home to ash and rubble where their houses once stood.

"I couldn't even think," said Soledad Pulido, who lost her home. "Could I have grabbed a picture or two? I probably could have, but I couldn't even think. All I could do was grab the kids."

When the fire unexpectedly shifted south earlier this week, Pulido only had four minutes to get out.

"The living room," she said while pointing to the debris. "This would essentially be my kitchen area, my dining room."

Now all that remains? Just the home's foundation.

"My worst fear is that they weren't going to be aware that there was a house here because we live so far in, and I think that's what happened because they didn't get up here in time," she said.

One by one, people are making their way back, but the unpredictable nature of the Detwiler Fire still looms.

"They need to make sure their bags are still packed," Toni Davis with Cal Fire warned.

Pulido has nothing left to pack like the other 57 families who also lost everything.

"How long is this nightmare going to be," she asked. "You're not going to have your home or a home you're going to be displaced. And what is going to be home to you or your kids?"

Click here for more information on the Detwiler Fire.
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