Junction Fire Leaves Wake of Destruction

Published 08/19 2014 11:32PM

Updated 08/19 2014 11:38PM

Firefighters have gained more ground on the so-called Junction Fire burning in Oakhurst. It is now 35% contained. A total of 612 acres have burned including nine structures.

Hundreds of folks returned home Tuesday after being forced to evacuate Monday afternoon.

One day later, a scorched hillside is the most visible scar to those passing by on Highway 41 that a fire broke out in Oakhurst. But the people living here know the damage runs much deeper.

“I lost a lot of stuff here,” said Shawn Padovich, an Oakhurst homeowner.

Shawn Padovich returned from his night at a hotel and discovered his garage was destroyed along with his boom truck and bobcat tractor used in his construction business. However, the important thing is his house is still standing.

“We got really fortunate the fire department really kicked it in and they camped out on my doorstep last night, saved my house,” said Padovich.

A few homes around the corner from Shawn were not so lucky. Only a brick fire place and chimney remain on one property. The historic former restaurant known as the barn was leveled, as was the neighboring Suburban Propane. Dozens of empty gas tanks sit on the ground, but some which were full, blew. In fact, one launched like a missile and flew a few hundred yards into a creek which sits in Jacob Lehigh’s backyard.

“Fire ripped through here and it just miraculously went around us,” said Jacob Leigh, an Oakhurst Homeowner.

Not only did Jacob’s home get spared, but so too did his car.

“I have no idea how it didn’t burn that thing. When I got there it looked like it was damaged because it was covered in soot. We dusted it off and I was like are you kidding me?” said Lehigh.

It will take time to fix wells and restore water service. PG&E is working diligently to restore power and firefighters are making sure to quickly mop up any hot spots.

Reporter: “If you could talk to them, anything you’d like to say? “

“Just love you guys and thanks for doing what you do. Without them we’d be in big trouble,” said Lehigh.

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