MADERA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – It’s been over 24 hours since what officials are now calling the most destructive vegetation fire in the city of Madera.

The fire started on the Fresno River and spread to homes on the bank, burning down multiple houses. 

Wednesday night, residents packed the city council demanding help. Public comment lasted for over an hour. 

Neighbor after neighbor shared their stories and cries for help. 

“The city manager he’s been on the phone all day reaching out to state, federal, and other local officials asking for help,” said Chief Matthew Watson with Madera Fire.

Residents say the homeless camps on the dry riverbed bring an endless amount of problems to the neighborhood.

“They cook out there, they’re fighting… we want someone to help us, to clear out the brush, the homeless,” said Marylou Sandoval.

After each speaker, the full house of residents clapped and even raised their hands in unity.

“The stress, the sleepless nights all that, that’s what…we need safety, we need comfort in our homes…” added Sandoval.

“California department of  fish and wildlife has granted the city permission to do some emergency work within the river,” said Watson

Officials say it’s now a matter of looking for a contractor that can go out there and clear out the vegetation to protect the homes. 

“It’s a very hard situation I don’t think nobody has a quick fix or a quick answer but eventually they will come up with something that will help the community,” said another resident.

Fire crews hope to get to work as soon as next week and say they have 14 days to complete the clean-up.