TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) — The SQF Complex Fire has burned more than 123,000 acres and is 12% contained.
Thousands of structures are threatened and 150 have been reported destroyed. Many homeowners are now wondering if theirs are among the wreckage.
Kate Dooley-Hedrick said her family cabin in Alpine Village has been the site of too many memories to count ever since her grandparents picked the perfect spot and built it in 1974.
“There’s so many stories to go around, my grandmother talks about walking around the property with a ladder climbing the steps to find the perfect place for that view,” Dooley-Hedrick said.
But things look very different now, after the SQF Complex Fire ripped through parts of the Sequoia National Forest. The fire has been active for nearly a month, but exploded in size over the weekend.
“We all woke up on Sunday morning to the news of the growth and as the day unfolded I think we all just had this pit in our stomach that maybe our luck had run out,” Dooley-Hedrick said.
Now about 3,500 structures are threatened. Dooley Hedrick said she learned they lost the family cabin Wednesday night.
Roughly 1,300 personnel are fighting to prevent any more loss.
“There’s multiple little communities throughout, which those are a high priority of making sure that we get the structure defense in there and try to keep the fire out of those homes,” Ryan Lubben with Cal Fire said.
He said crews are taking advantage of a break in the weather to reinforce containment lines around the fires edge and said the western portion continues to be a top priority, as they brace for what could be another rough weekend.
“The inversion layer that we’re having here in the valley should lift and be gone so we’re going to see an increase in fire behavior and fire activity on the whole fire itself. So we’re really tryin to use this to our advantage to get the stuff done that we need,” he said.
Dooley-Hedrick said her family is so grateful for first responders and also thankful for the decades they were able to spend together at their cabin.
“I think we’re trying to focus on the gratitude for all the memories we had. They’re countless and I know we don’t have the physical things that were there but we have a lot of photos and a lot of memories and I think we’re all holding on to that for now,” she said.
Crews are assessing the damage right now, but there are still places they’re not able to access. There is a form homeowners can fill out and teams will notify them when they are able to check their property: