Residents devastated after fire in Lake Co. rips through homes, businesses

Byby Cornell Barnard KGO logo
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Clayton Fire in Lake County rips through homes, businesses
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Some Lake County residents returned to their homes Tuesday only to find they'd lost everything.

LOWER LAKE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Clayton Fire is 35 percent contained and some Lake County residents returned to their homes Tuesday only to find they'd lost everything.

PHOTOS: Crews battle massive Clayton Fire in Lake County

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Damin Pashilk , the man accused of starting the Clayton Fire in Lake County, Calif. appears in court on Wednesday, August 17, 2016.

It's was a homecoming that Starr and Michael Skidmore never wanted. They're seeing the devastation of the Clayton Fire up close for the first time.

"I have nothing left. It's all destroyed," said fire victim Michael Skidmore.

The family's Lower Lake home and seven rental cottages burned to the ground over the weekend when a wall of flames sent them running for their lives.

RELATED: I-TEAM: Clayton Fire suspect had training as a firefighter

"I was lucky that I got my chickens and my dog, but I'm still looking for my three cats," said the Skidmore's granddaughter Gracie Matthies.

The Skidmore's auto repair shop is the only thing still standing. Down the street, Duane Barbic is remembering, what was. "You know, it's like watching the Titanic go down, except the house when up in smoke," he said.

Barbic's pride and joy, a Victorian built in 1887, is in ashes. A garden statue is all that's left.

RELATED: Police arrest man accused of starting Clayton Fire

The neighborhood is now unrecognizable from what Google street view currently shows.

"I got $238,000 in insurance to put back into this. I don't how much house that's going to buy," Barbic said.

Tim Hidson is returning home after sleeping three nights in an evacuation shelter. His house in the Avenues neighborhood is still standing. "Fire was coming this way. We could see it from our back porch," he said.

Others weren't as lucky. The Skidmores are now starting over. "We were just now feeling the blessings of what we worked our tails off for. Now we have no home," Starr Skidmore said.

It's unknown when police will let people back into the neighborhood. Full containment on the fire is expected sometime this weekend.

For full information on school closures, evacuation centers, and donation information, click here.

Click here for full coverage on the Clayton Fire and click here for full coverage on last year's Valley Fire.