Squaw Valley residents return home after fire rips through

SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. - Families assessed damage from the Silver Fire Thursday morning after the fire forced them to evacuate the night before.

The fire sparked in the area of Elwood Road and Silver Lane. At this time, fire crews have it 40-percent contained, but forward progress of the fire has stopped.

The fire destroyed three homes. One of them belonged to David Arnwine, who was in Fresno when he first heard the news of the fire. He didn't find out everything was gone until the evacuation orders and road closures were lifted.

The time spent waiting to go see his home was painful, Arnwine said.

"You don't get sleep," he said. "You just think about what you're going to see. When you see it, it's overwhelming, very overwhelming."

Arnwine said one of the best things about his home on Marlar Lane was the beautiful views. He also lived there so he could accommodate all of his animals.

Many of his animals died in the blaze, but thanks to a friend's help some did escape. On Thursday, Arnwine is still looking for several animals, including four adult Saint Bernards and a nine-week-old Saint Bernard puppy.

Fire crews continued to mop up hotspots Thursday. The cooler weather helped them get a handle on the fire overnight.

Michael Hettenbach lives right by where the fire started. He's counting his blessings, especially with the fire having burned inches away from his chickens and grazing his home.

Fortunately, though, nothing was lost. Hettenbach knows his community will help the families who weren't as lucky.

"I'm pretty sure [the community] is going to get together and bring things together -- clothes or whatever it is that they need," Hettenbach said.

At 60, Arnwine is ready to start over.

"I have a deep faith and I'm going to stand on my faith," Arnwine said. "I believe that God is bigger than any fire that we'll ever see."

Crews are expected to continue mopping up hotspots on Friday.

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