‘It’s just stuff’: Creek Fire evacuees returning to devastation try to stay positive

Wildfires

FRESNO COUNTY, California (KSEE) – More residents are able to return to their homes after evacuation orders were lifted by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Monday. 

Many areas don’t have power or water. for those who lost homes, it’s just the beginning of the road to recovery. 

“I moved up here from town three years ago when I lost my wife for something different. I had a beautiful two-story log cabin home,” said Bill Griffith as he stood in front of his home off Peterson Road. It is now a pile of rubble.

Evacuation orders were lifted Monday for his area, which sustained major destruction from the Creek Fire.

“I had seen some pictures, but like any human, you hold out hope thinking maybe they had the wrong address,” said Griffith.

His home, garage, work truck, and barn where his granddaughter Addy played with his goats, is now gone. 

“Compared to losing a loved one, it’s  just stuff. I’ve seen both in the last few years so this is just stuff,” said Griffith.

He says he regrets leaving her wedding dress behind as it was something he was going to give to his granddaughter.

“I didn’t know what to grab. I was walking through the house thinking this is just a test and I’ll be back tomorrow,” said Griffith.

Despite his losses he feels fortunate.

“Yeah I lost my home, I lost stuff, but I have my animals, my friends, my children are safe, I’m fine,” said Griffith.

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office asks everyone returning to their homes to be cautious. Deputies advise residents to:

  • Slow down as speed limits will be reduced.
  • Watch for all utility work zones.
  • Watch for hazards, like burned trees, will be in the area for months to come.
  • Be aware water will not be safe to consume or use for cooking until you receive personal notification.
  • Be prepared for intermittent water outages, power outages, and potentially wastewater service interruptions.
  • Prepare for some areas to not have communications restored for some time.

Any hazards can be reported to Fresno County calling 559-600-4636.

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