Sadness, fear, hope blend together for Pawnee Fire evacuees

CLEARLAKE OAKS, Calif. (KGO) -- In Clearlake Oaks, it still feels like a full house in Moose Lodge 2284, even though only half of the 300 evacuees from the Pawnee Fire remain.

Despite the warmth of spirit, days and nights in here have taken their toll.

RELATED: ABC7's 7 On Your Side to help Pawnee Fire victims in Lake County's Clearlake

Cal Fire announced residents may return to their homes as early as 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Some will find ruins when they do. At least 12 of the 22 burned structures are residences.

Denise Ogle of Spring Valley learned, just Wednesday morning, that flames took her house on Wolf Creek Road. She sat there, stunned, absorbing the news as friends gathered around to comfort her. "I have no insurance," she told us. "I'll have to accept help."

Why didn't she have insurance? No company would sell it to her.

This map from Mendocino National Forest officials shows the perimeter of the Pawnee Fire burning in Lake County.


The community of Spring Valley and areas served by New Long Valley and Old Long Valley Road north of Highway 20 may return home starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Cal Fire says.

The Lake County Sheriff has authorized the removal of the road blocks located at New Long Valley Road at Highway 20 and Old Long Valley Road at Highway 20 beginning at 12 p.m. Wednesday.

The latest evacuation information can be found here.

Click here for a list of buildings destroyed by the Pawnee Fire, from Cal Fire.

A shelter has been established at Lower Lake High School, 9430 Lake Street in Lower Lake. The shelter will accept large and companion animals.

The evacuation areas include Mule Skinner, Long Branch, Watertrough Road, Fintlock, Muzzleloader, No Guns, Antelope, Cougar, Marianne, Ramrod, and Moccasin in Lake County. Officials expanded the road closures Tuesday to include State Route 20 at Bear Valley Road, Bear Valley Road at Brim Road and Leesville Lodge Road at Brim Road in Colusa County. The intersections of State Route 20 at Walker Ridge and Mule Skinner Road in Lake County were closed as well.

Some residents only escaped with the clothing on their backs. Luckily a family ABC7 News talked to was able to get their cat out of their home as well.

VIDEO: Pawnee Fire rages through Lake County
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The Pawnee Fire has destroyed dozens of buildings and is threatening hundreds of others near the community of Clearlake Oaks in Lake County.

Officials say to please remember your pets, personal belongings, computers, prescriptions, photos, paperwork, and phones if time allows. Please try to close all windows and doors as well when you evacuatee.

An evacuation center has been established at Lower Lake High School, located at 9430 Lake Street. The Red Cross is gearing up to handle up to 300 evacuees.

Sheriff Martin added that there is an alternative evacuation site at the Moose Lodge, which is located at the junction of Highway 53 and Highway 20. The lodge, which has a bar, restaurant, and can handle animals, is very popular with locals when fires break out.

Officials are encouraging anyone in the area to conserve water so that firefighters can use it to fight the fast-growing blaze.

More than 20 engines have been dispatched to contain the blaze, as well as two helicopters and several air tankers. The fire is being driven by low relative humidity, strong winds, Cal Fire said.

Click here for more information on Brown's state of emergency.

Get the latest on the Pawnee Fire here.

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