(CNN)Toby Wait and his family have prepared to flee a number of wildfires that have burned through the rugged and dry mountains of Central California. But none were as ferocious or fast-moving as what the long-time residents of Big Creek faced this week when flames overwhelmed their community, forcing them to flee in the middle of the night and reduced their home to ashes.

Wait, the superintendent of Big Creek School District and principal of Big Creek Elementary School, noticed a plume of smoke in the distance Friday but wasn’t too worried, packing up a few belongings just in case they might need to leave. He figured that even if his family were to be evacuated, they would be able to return in a few days.But at 4 a.m. Saturday, he and his family were forced to flee when firefighters came to their door and told them to get out. This is what the Bay Area's skies looked like today during the wildfires This is what the Bay Area's skies looked like today during the wildfires This is what the Bay Area's skies looked like today during the wildfires “I went on my deck and looked out, and there was just orange flowing throughout the hills,” he recalled to CNN. Wait, his wife, three children, and three dogs quickly packed into their cars and made a harrowing escape down the mountain to safety.Live updates on the wildfiresRead More”The irony is my daughter’s had her license for six months and has been wanting to drive up that route, and we’ve said ‘no, no, no, you’re not going to do that.’ But here I am, 4:30 in the morning with a fire nipping our heels — it’s indescribable, it’s pitch dark outside, power is shut off, smokey, sirens. I was more fearful for my daughter than the fire at that point,” he says of the terrifying trek. “It’s something you hope you never have to experience again.”Wait and his family found out later that day their home had been destroyed by the fire, and that they were just one of many in the community who had suffered the same fate. “This fire has taken a life of its own,” he says. “This is a devastating fire.”Their home is just one of dozens lost to the Creek Fire, which has scorched more than 160,000 acres and continues to burn out of control.The family is now staying with Wait’s parents in the Central Valley city of Hanford, alternating between there and homes of other family members in Fresno. “We’ve taken refuge here. We’re nomads right now,” he said. “We’ve got our duffle bags and when we wear out our welcome, we move on to the next house.”Looking up Columbus Avenue, the Transamerica Pyramid and Salesforce Tower are covered with smoke from wildfires late Wednesday morning on Wednesday, September 9, in San Francisco.Looking up Columbus Avenue, the Transamerica Pyramid and Salesforce Tower are covered with smoke from wildfires late Wednesday morning on Wednesday, September 9, in San Francisco. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestLooking up Columbus Avenue, the Transamerica Pyramid and Salesforce Tower are covered with smoke from wildfires late Wednesday morning on Wednesday, September 9, in San Francisco.Hide Caption 1 of 73Visitors are seen in Dolores Park under an orange sky darkened by smoke from California wildfires in San Francisco on Wednesday. Visitors are seen in Dolores Park under an orange sky darkened by smoke from California wildfires in San Francisco on Wednesday. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestVisitors are seen in Dolores Park under an orange sky darkened by smoke from California wildfires in San Francisco on Wednesday. Hide Caption 2 of 73Smoke from California wildfires hangs over the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge on Wednesday. Smoke from California wildfires hangs over the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge on Wednesday. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestSmoke from California wildfires hangs over the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge on Wednesday. Hide Caption 3 of 73Senior Building Inspector Bejhan Razi checks out the repairs on a lamp post clock at Miller and Throckmorton avenues in downtown Mill Valley, California, on Wednesday. Senior Building Inspector Bejhan Razi checks out the repairs on a lamp post clock at Miller and Throckmorton avenues in downtown Mill Valley, California, on Wednesday. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestSenior Building Inspector Bejhan Razi checks out the repairs on a lamp post clock at Miller and Throckmorton avenues in downtown Mill Valley, California, on Wednesday. Hide Caption 4 of 73People stand in Alamo Square Park as smoke hangs over San Francisco on Wednesday. People stand in Alamo Square Park as smoke hangs over San Francisco on Wednesday. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestPeople stand in Alamo Square Park as smoke hangs over San Francisco on Wednesday. Hide Caption 5 of 73People in San Francisco stop to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge as it is affected from smoke by nearby wildfires on Wednesday, September 9.People in San Francisco stop to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge as it is affected from smoke by nearby wildfires on Wednesday, September 9. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestPeople in San Francisco stop to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge as it is affected from smoke by nearby wildfires on Wednesday, September 9.Hide Caption 6 of 73Firefighters cut defensive lines and light backfires to protect structures in Butte County, California, on September 9.Firefighters cut defensive lines and light backfires to protect structures in Butte County, California, on September 9. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFirefighters cut defensive lines and light backfires to protect structures in Butte County, California, on September 9.Hide Caption 7 of 73Bejhan Razi, a senior building inspector in Mill Valley, California, checks out repairs on a lamp-post clock as the sky is illuminated by nearby wildfires on September 9.Bejhan Razi, a senior building inspector in Mill Valley, California, checks out repairs on a lamp-post clock as the sky is illuminated by nearby wildfires on September 9. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestBejhan Razi, a senior building inspector in Mill Valley, California, checks out repairs on a lamp-post clock as the sky is illuminated by nearby wildfires on September 9.Hide Caption 8 of 73Flames shoot from a home in Butte County.Flames shoot from a home in Butte County. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFlames shoot from a home in Butte County.Hide Caption 9 of 73A Pacific Gas and Electric worker looks up at the advancing Creek Fire near Alder Springs, California, on Tuesday, September 8.A Pacific Gas and Electric worker looks up at the advancing Creek Fire near Alder Springs, California, on Tuesday, September 8. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA Pacific Gas and Electric worker looks up at the advancing Creek Fire near Alder Springs, California, on Tuesday, September 8.Hide Caption 10 of 73Lisa Theis unloads the last of her 44 alpacas after she evacuated her ranch in North Fork, California.Lisa Theis unloads the last of her 44 alpacas after she evacuated her ranch in North Fork, California. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestLisa Theis unloads the last of her 44 alpacas after she evacuated her ranch in North Fork, California.Hide Caption 11 of 73Flames burn at a home leveled by the Creek Fire in Fresno County, California.Flames burn at a home leveled by the Creek Fire in Fresno County, California. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFlames burn at a home leveled by the Creek Fire in Fresno County, California.Hide Caption 12 of 73A slide is melted at a school playground in Fresno County.A slide is melted at a school playground in Fresno County. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA slide is melted at a school playground in Fresno County.Hide Caption 13 of 73Rubble is seen on Monday, September 7, after a wildfire left the small town of Malden, Washington, in ruins. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/08/us/malden-washington-fire-town-destroyed/index.html" target="_blank">The fire destroyed about 80% of the homes and buildings in Malden,</a> which is about 35 miles south of Spokane.Rubble is seen on Monday, September 7, after a wildfire left the small town of Malden, Washington, in ruins. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/08/us/malden-washington-fire-town-destroyed/index.html" target="_blank">The fire destroyed about 80% of the homes and buildings in Malden,</a> which is about 35 miles south of Spokane. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestRubble is seen on Monday, September 7, after a wildfire left the small town of Malden, Washington, in ruins. The fire destroyed about 80% of the homes and buildings in Malden, which is about 35 miles south of Spokane.Hide Caption 14 of 73Firefighter Nick Grinstead battles the Creek Fire in Shaver Lake, California, on September 7.Firefighter Nick Grinstead battles the Creek Fire in Shaver Lake, California, on September 7. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFirefighter Nick Grinstead battles the Creek Fire in Shaver Lake, California, on September 7.Hide Caption 15 of 73A firefighter in Jamul, California, battles the Valley Fire on Sunday, September 6.A firefighter in Jamul, California, battles the Valley Fire on Sunday, September 6. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA firefighter in Jamul, California, battles the Valley Fire on Sunday, September 6.Hide Caption 16 of 73A fire encroaches Japatul Road in Jamul on September 6.A fire encroaches Japatul Road in Jamul on September 6. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA fire encroaches Japatul Road in Jamul on September 6.Hide Caption 17 of 73Little League baseball players warm up for a game near Dehesa, California, as the Valley Fire burns on September 6.Little League baseball players warm up for a game near Dehesa, California, as the Valley Fire burns on September 6. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestLittle League baseball players warm up for a game near Dehesa, California, as the Valley Fire burns on September 6.Hide Caption 18 of 73A firefighter watches the advancing Creek Fire in Shaver Lake.A firefighter watches the advancing Creek Fire in Shaver Lake. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA firefighter watches the advancing Creek Fire in Shaver Lake.Hide Caption 19 of 73A business owner in Shaver Lake walks next to kayaks he rents as smoke from the Creek Fire fills the sky on September 6.A business owner in Shaver Lake walks next to kayaks he rents as smoke from the Creek Fire fills the sky on September 6. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA business owner in Shaver Lake walks next to kayaks he rents as smoke from the Creek Fire fills the sky on September 6.Hide Caption 20 of 73Family members comfort each other as the El Dorado Fire moves closer to their home in Yucaipa, California, on September 6.Family members comfort each other as the El Dorado Fire moves closer to their home in Yucaipa, California, on September 6. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFamily members comfort each other as the El Dorado Fire moves closer to their home in Yucaipa, California, on September 6.Hide Caption 21 of 73A firefighter sets a controlled burn with a drip torch while fighting the Creek Fire in Shaver Lake.A firefighter sets a controlled burn with a drip torch while fighting the Creek Fire in Shaver Lake. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA firefighter sets a controlled burn with a drip torch while fighting the Creek Fire in Shaver Lake.Hide Caption 22 of 73Dozens of evacuees are airlifted to safety on a California National Guard helicopter on Saturday, September 5. The Creek Fire had left them stranded in a popular camping area in the Sierra National Forest.Dozens of evacuees are airlifted to safety on a California National Guard helicopter on Saturday, September 5. The Creek Fire had left them stranded in a popular camping area in the Sierra National Forest. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestDozens of evacuees are airlifted to safety on a California National Guard helicopter on Saturday, September 5. The Creek Fire had left them stranded in a popular camping area in the Sierra National Forest.Hide Caption 23 of 73Firefighters walk in a line in Yucaipa on September 5.Firefighters walk in a line in Yucaipa on September 5. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFirefighters walk in a line in Yucaipa on September 5.Hide Caption 24 of 73Haze and smoke blanket the sky near Naches, Washington, as the Evans Canyon Fire burns on Thursday, September 3.Haze and smoke blanket the sky near Naches, Washington, as the Evans Canyon Fire burns on Thursday, September 3. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestHaze and smoke blanket the sky near Naches, Washington, as the Evans Canyon Fire burns on Thursday, September 3.Hide Caption 25 of 73California Gov. Gavin Newsom, right, listens as Santa Cruz State Park Superintendent Chris Spohrer talks about the fire damage to the Big Basin Redwoods State Park.California Gov. Gavin Newsom, right, listens as Santa Cruz State Park Superintendent Chris Spohrer talks about the fire damage to the Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestCalifornia Gov. Gavin Newsom, right, listens as Santa Cruz State Park Superintendent Chris Spohrer talks about the fire damage to the Big Basin Redwoods State Park.Hide Caption 26 of 73Randy Hunt packs up his belongings, including his daughter Natasha's first Pooh bear, left, in case he and his wife Sheli had to evacuate the home they rent in Middletown, California, on August 26.Randy Hunt packs up his belongings, including his daughter Natasha's first Pooh bear, left, in case he and his wife Sheli had to evacuate the home they rent in Middletown, California, on August 26. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestRandy Hunt packs up his belongings, including his daughter Natasha’s first Pooh bear, left, in case he and his wife Sheli had to evacuate the home they rent in Middletown, California, on August 26.Hide Caption 27 of 73Firefighter Juan Chavarin pulls down a burning tree trunk in Guerneville, California, on August 25.Firefighter Juan Chavarin pulls down a burning tree trunk in Guerneville, California, on August 25. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFirefighter Juan Chavarin pulls down a burning tree trunk in Guerneville, California, on August 25.Hide Caption 28 of 73A sign reading "Vaca Strong" adorns a charred hillside in Vacaville, California, on August 24.A sign reading "Vaca Strong" adorns a charred hillside in Vacaville, California, on August 24. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA sign reading “Vaca Strong” adorns a charred hillside in Vacaville, California, on August 24.Hide Caption 29 of 73Austin Giannuzzi cries while embracing relatives at the burned remains of their Vacaville home on August 23.Austin Giannuzzi cries while embracing relatives at the burned remains of their Vacaville home on August 23. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestAustin Giannuzzi cries while embracing relatives at the burned remains of their Vacaville home on August 23.Hide Caption 30 of 73A firefighter looks out from a helicopter while battling the LNU Lightning Complex fires in Lake County, California.A firefighter looks out from a helicopter while battling the LNU Lightning Complex fires in Lake County, California. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA firefighter looks out from a helicopter while battling the LNU Lightning Complex fires in Lake County, California.Hide Caption 31 of 73Flames from the LNU Lightning Complex fires leap above Butts Canyon Road in Lake County on August 23.Flames from the LNU Lightning Complex fires leap above Butts Canyon Road in Lake County on August 23. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFlames from the LNU Lightning Complex fires leap above Butts Canyon Road in Lake County on August 23.Hide Caption 32 of 73Karol Markowski of the South Pasadena Fire Department hoses down hot spots while battling the CZU Lightning Complex fires in Boulder Creek, California, on August 22.Karol Markowski of the South Pasadena Fire Department hoses down hot spots while battling the CZU Lightning Complex fires in Boulder Creek, California, on August 22. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestKarol Markowski of the South Pasadena Fire Department hoses down hot spots while battling the CZU Lightning Complex fires in Boulder Creek, California, on August 22.Hide Caption 33 of 73A burned-out vehicle is left in front of a destroyed residence as smoke fills the sky in Boulder Creek on August 22.A burned-out vehicle is left in front of a destroyed residence as smoke fills the sky in Boulder Creek on August 22. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA burned-out vehicle is left in front of a destroyed residence as smoke fills the sky in Boulder Creek on August 22.Hide Caption 34 of 73Smoke hangs low in the air at the Big Basin Redwoods State Park as some redwoods burn in Boulder Creek on August 22.Smoke hangs low in the air at the Big Basin Redwoods State Park as some redwoods burn in Boulder Creek on August 22. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestSmoke hangs low in the air at the Big Basin Redwoods State Park as some redwoods burn in Boulder Creek on August 22.Hide Caption 35 of 73A firefighter watches the LNU Lightning Complex fires spread through the Berryessa Estates neighborhood in Napa County on August 21.A firefighter watches the LNU Lightning Complex fires spread through the Berryessa Estates neighborhood in Napa County on August 21. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA firefighter watches the LNU Lightning Complex fires spread through the Berryessa Estates neighborhood in Napa County on August 21.Hide Caption 36 of 73Veterinary technician Brianna Jeter comforts a llama injured by a fire in Vacaville on August 21. At right, animal control officer Dae Kim prepares to euthanize the llama.Veterinary technician Brianna Jeter comforts a llama injured by a fire in Vacaville on August 21. At right, animal control officer Dae Kim prepares to euthanize the llama. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestVeterinary technician Brianna Jeter comforts a llama injured by a fire in Vacaville on August 21. At right, animal control officer Dae Kim prepares to euthanize the llama.Hide Caption 37 of 73Smoke from nearby wildfires hangs over San Francisco on August 21.Smoke from nearby wildfires hangs over San Francisco on August 21. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestSmoke from nearby wildfires hangs over San Francisco on August 21.Hide Caption 38 of 73A firefighter monitors the advance of a fire in Boulder Creek on August 21.A firefighter monitors the advance of a fire in Boulder Creek on August 21. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA firefighter monitors the advance of a fire in Boulder Creek on August 21.Hide Caption 39 of 73Members of the US Forest Service discuss their next moves to battle the Grizzly Creek Fire near Dotsero, Colorado, on August 21.Members of the US Forest Service discuss their next moves to battle the Grizzly Creek Fire near Dotsero, Colorado, on August 21. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestMembers of the US Forest Service discuss their next moves to battle the Grizzly Creek Fire near Dotsero, Colorado, on August 21.Hide Caption 40 of 73People pack brown-bag lunches at an evacuation center in Santa Cruz, California, on August 21.People pack brown-bag lunches at an evacuation center in Santa Cruz, California, on August 21. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestPeople pack brown-bag lunches at an evacuation center in Santa Cruz, California, on August 21.Hide Caption 41 of 73A smoke plume from the LNU Lightning Complex fires billows over Healdsburg, California, on August 20.A smoke plume from the LNU Lightning Complex fires billows over Healdsburg, California, on August 20. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA smoke plume from the LNU Lightning Complex fires billows over Healdsburg, California, on August 20.Hide Caption 42 of 73A firefighter battles flames in Santa Cruz County, California, on August 20.A firefighter battles flames in Santa Cruz County, California, on August 20. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA firefighter battles flames in Santa Cruz County, California, on August 20.Hide Caption 43 of 73Only scorched homes and vehicles remain in the Spanish Flat Mobile Villa in Napa County, California, on August 20.Only scorched homes and vehicles remain in the Spanish Flat Mobile Villa in Napa County, California, on August 20. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestOnly scorched homes and vehicles remain in the Spanish Flat Mobile Villa in Napa County, California, on August 20.Hide Caption 44 of 73Peter Koleckar reacts after seeing multiple homes burned in his neighborhood in Bonny Doon, California, on August 20.Peter Koleckar reacts after seeing multiple homes burned in his neighborhood in Bonny Doon, California, on August 20. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestPeter Koleckar reacts after seeing multiple homes burned in his neighborhood in Bonny Doon, California, on August 20.Hide Caption 45 of 73A forest burns in Bonny Doon on August 20.A forest burns in Bonny Doon on August 20. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA forest burns in Bonny Doon on August 20.Hide Caption 46 of 73A man looks at a tree blocking his way after a fire ravaged Vacaville, California, on August 20.A man looks at a tree blocking his way after a fire ravaged Vacaville, California, on August 20. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA man looks at a tree blocking his way after a fire ravaged Vacaville, California, on August 20.Hide Caption 47 of 73A melted plastic fence lies on the charred ground after fire swept through Vacaville on August 20.A melted plastic fence lies on the charred ground after fire swept through Vacaville on August 20. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA melted plastic fence lies on the charred ground after fire swept through Vacaville on August 20.Hide Caption 48 of 73Sarah Hawkins searches through rubble after her Vacaville home was destroyed on August 20.Sarah Hawkins searches through rubble after her Vacaville home was destroyed on August 20. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestSarah Hawkins searches through rubble after her Vacaville home was destroyed on August 20.Hide Caption 49 of 73Fire crews maintain a backburn to control the River Fire near the Las Palmas neighborhood in Salinas, California, on August 19.Fire crews maintain a backburn to control the River Fire near the Las Palmas neighborhood in Salinas, California, on August 19. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFire crews maintain a backburn to control the River Fire near the Las Palmas neighborhood in Salinas, California, on August 19.Hide Caption 50 of 73Gina Santos cries in her car after evacuating Vacaville on August 19.Gina Santos cries in her car after evacuating Vacaville on August 19. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestGina Santos cries in her car after evacuating Vacaville on August 19.Hide Caption 51 of 73People herd cows down Pleasants Valley Road in Vacaville on August 19.People herd cows down Pleasants Valley Road in Vacaville on August 19. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestPeople herd cows down Pleasants Valley Road in Vacaville on August 19.Hide Caption 52 of 73Flames consume a home in Napa County, California, on August 19.Flames consume a home in Napa County, California, on August 19. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFlames consume a home in Napa County, California, on August 19.Hide Caption 53 of 73Embers burn along a hillside above Lake Berryessa as the LNU Lightning Complex fires tear through Napa County on August 18. This image was taken with a long exposure.Embers burn along a hillside above Lake Berryessa as the LNU Lightning Complex fires tear through Napa County on August 18. This image was taken with a long exposure. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestEmbers burn along a hillside above Lake Berryessa as the LNU Lightning Complex fires tear through Napa County on August 18. This image was taken with a long exposure.Hide Caption 54 of 73A resident runs into a home to save a dog while flames from the Hennessy Fire close in near Lake Berryessa on August 18.A resident runs into a home to save a dog while flames from the Hennessy Fire close in near Lake Berryessa on August 18. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA resident runs into a home to save a dog while flames from the Hennessy Fire close in near Lake Berryessa on August 18.Hide Caption 55 of 73A home burns as the LNU Lightning Complex fires tear through the Spanish Flat community in Napa County on August 18.A home burns as the LNU Lightning Complex fires tear through the Spanish Flat community in Napa County on August 18. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA home burns as the LNU Lightning Complex fires tear through the Spanish Flat community in Napa County on August 18.Hide Caption 56 of 73An air tanker drops retardant on fires in the Spanish Flat community of Napa County on August 18.An air tanker drops retardant on fires in the Spanish Flat community of Napa County on August 18. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestAn air tanker drops retardant on fires in the Spanish Flat community of Napa County on August 18.Hide Caption 57 of 73Flames from the Hennessy Fire consume a cabin at the Nichelini Family Winery in Napa County on August 18.Flames from the Hennessy Fire consume a cabin at the Nichelini Family Winery in Napa County on August 18. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFlames from the Hennessy Fire consume a cabin at the Nichelini Family Winery in Napa County on August 18.Hide Caption 58 of 73Tony Leonardini works on a spot fire as thunderstorm winds fan the Hennessy Fire in Napa County on August 17.Tony Leonardini works on a spot fire as thunderstorm winds fan the Hennessy Fire in Napa County on August 17. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestTony Leonardini works on a spot fire as thunderstorm winds fan the Hennessy Fire in Napa County on August 17.Hide Caption 59 of 73Smoke from the Grizzly Creek Fire is thick in Glenwood Canyon, near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, on August 16.Smoke from the Grizzly Creek Fire is thick in Glenwood Canyon, near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, on August 16. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestSmoke from the Grizzly Creek Fire is thick in Glenwood Canyon, near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, on August 16.Hide Caption 60 of 73Kathy Mathison looks at the still-smoldering wildfire on August 16 that, just a day before, came within several feet of her home in Bend, Oregon.Kathy Mathison looks at the still-smoldering wildfire on August 16 that, just a day before, came within several feet of her home in Bend, Oregon. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestKathy Mathison looks at the still-smoldering wildfire on August 16 that, just a day before, came within several feet of her home in Bend, Oregon.Hide Caption 61 of 73Firefighters look at smoke and flames rising from the Ranch2 Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains, east of Los Angeles, on August 14.Firefighters look at smoke and flames rising from the Ranch2 Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains, east of Los Angeles, on August 14. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFirefighters look at smoke and flames rising from the Ranch2 Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains, east of Los Angeles, on August 14.Hide Caption 62 of 73A helicopter makes a water drop over the Ranch2 Fire in Azusa, California, on August 13.A helicopter makes a water drop over the Ranch2 Fire in Azusa, California, on August 13. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA helicopter makes a water drop over the Ranch2 Fire in Azusa, California, on August 13.Hide Caption 63 of 73A car is charred by the Lake Fire near Lake Hughes, 60 miles north of Los Angeles, on August 13.A car is charred by the Lake Fire near Lake Hughes, 60 miles north of Los Angeles, on August 13. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA car is charred by the Lake Fire near Lake Hughes, 60 miles north of Los Angeles, on August 13.Hide Caption 64 of 73A couple watches the Ranch2 Fire from a distance on August 13.A couple watches the Ranch2 Fire from a distance on August 13. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA couple watches the Ranch2 Fire from a distance on August 13.Hide Caption 65 of 73A firefighter crew works in Lake Hughes on August 13.A firefighter crew works in Lake Hughes on August 13. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA firefighter crew works in Lake Hughes on August 13.Hide Caption 66 of 73The Lake Fire burns a home in Angeles National Forest on August 13.The Lake Fire burns a home in Angeles National Forest on August 13. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestThe Lake Fire burns a home in Angeles National Forest on August 13.Hide Caption 67 of 73Flames and smoke from the Lake Fire rise on Wednesday, August 12.Flames and smoke from the Lake Fire rise on Wednesday, August 12. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFlames and smoke from the Lake Fire rise on Wednesday, August 12.Hide Caption 68 of 73A firefighter works against the Lake Fire on August 12.A firefighter works against the Lake Fire on August 12. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA firefighter works against the Lake Fire on August 12.Hide Caption 69 of 73Firefighters make an escape plan as the Lake Fire burns a hillside on August 12.Firefighters make an escape plan as the Lake Fire burns a hillside on August 12. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFirefighters make an escape plan as the Lake Fire burns a hillside on August 12.Hide Caption 70 of 73A tanker makes a drop on the Lake Fire on August 12.A tanker makes a drop on the Lake Fire on August 12. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA tanker makes a drop on the Lake Fire on August 12.Hide Caption 71 of 73A plume of smoke rises from the Lake Fire on August 12.A plume of smoke rises from the Lake Fire on August 12. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestA plume of smoke rises from the Lake Fire on August 12.Hide Caption 72 of 73Fire crews battle the Grizzly Creek Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, on August 11.Fire crews battle the Grizzly Creek Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, on August 11. Photos: Wildfires burning in the WestFire crews battle the Grizzly Creek Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, on August 11.Hide Caption 73 of 7301 bay area smoke05 bay area smoke03 bay area smoke02 bay area smoke04 bay area smoke01 wildfires 0909 san francisco 02 wildfire 0909 bear fire04 wildfires 0909 mill valley RESTRICTED01 wildfire 0909 bear fire 01 creek fire 0908 08 wildfires ca ca05 creek fire 090804 creek fire 090809 wildfires malden WA01 wildfires 090705 california fire 090605 wildfires 090601 california fire 090602 wildfires 090602 california fire 0906RESTRICTED 04 california fire 090601 wildfires 090603 wildfires 090604 wildfires 0906western wildfires 0903 evans canyon western wildfires newsom 0901western wildfires 0826 lightning complex RESTRICTEDwalbridge fire 0825 RESTRICTED01 wildfires 082402 wildfires 082304 wildfires 082301 wildfires 082303 wildfires 082204 wildfires 082211 cali fires 082201 cali fires 082207 cali fires 082203 cali fires 082204 cali fires 082205 cali fires 082206 cali fires 082208 cali fires 082201B wildfires 082102 wildfires 082103 wildfires 082104 wildfires 082105 wildfires 082106 wildfires 082107 wildfires 082108 wildfires 082109 wildfires 082110 wildfires 082111 wildfires 082104B west wildfires 081803 west wildfires 081808 west wildfires 081802 west wildfires 081809 west wildfires 081806 west wildfires 081805 west wildfires 081807 west wildfires 081801 western fires unfurl 0814 california 03 western fires unfurl 0813 california 02 western fires unfurl 0813 california 04 western fires unfurl 0813 california 05 western fires unfurl 0813 california RESTRICTED08 western fires unfurl 0813 california 06 western fires unfurl 07 western fires unfurl 0812 california 09 western fires unfurl 0812 california RESTRICTED10 western fires unfurl 0812 california 11 western fires unfurl 0812 california 02 wildfires california oregon coloradoOn Sunday, as word got out of the fire’s devastating toll, he started receiving messages from friends in other communities, saying, “I’m so sorry for your loss,” he said. But by Tuesday, he said he was “calling them, saying, ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’ They had no idea their houses would be lost as well, but that’s just how far it has stretched — over 60 miles.”Wait grew up around the Fresno area, but his father and his grandfather before him were both longtime residents of Big Creek, a small community nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains. “My family has been part of this community since 1929 and knowing it’s probably never going to be the same is just gut-wrenching,” he said.While Wait’s three younger children are with him and his wife, his oldest son is at Lindenwood University in Missouri, and has had to process the news from afar.”There’s been a family that took him in amid the pandemic, and when they heard about the fire, they let him grieve with them,” he says. “I’ve never met this family, and they’ve just taken my son in like he’s their own child. And as a parent, knowing that as you’ve lost everything, there are these total strangers to us who are providing that parental support, I could get teary-eyed.” Wait also feels for his 18-year-old daughter who already was forced to forego high school graduation and start at the University of Tennessee as a result of the pandemic. “Now she’s lost everything,” he said. “2020 can’t end soon enough for her. You can’t replace those memories.”Wait has been told the elementary school in Big Creek suffered fire damage, but is still standing. The school is always prepared for the possibility of wildfires, having cleared all the trees neighboring the campus, but once a fire grows out of control in these mountains, it can be very difficult to battle.”Our schools are the center of our community, and we need to get them back open,” he says. Despite their loss, Wait and his family are trying to remain positive and focused on what they still have.”We are not going to be victims. I am certainly not going to be a victim of this fire. Is it devastating? Absolutely. Is it heartbreaking? You bet,” he continued. “We have our health, we have our pets, and we have faith. We’re going to continue to forge ahead.”California's wildfires show how climate change is making forced evacuations and power shut-offs the normCalifornia's wildfires show how climate change is making forced evacuations and power shut-offs the normCalifornia's wildfires show how climate change is making forced evacuations and power shut-offs the normAnd Wait has hope the community will return when the Creek Fire is finally extinguished.”We’re going to rebuild this,” he said. “Is it going to be different? Absolutely. But we’re not going to let this be the defining moment of who we are. That’s unacceptable to the people of this mountain community. We’re going to bounce back. We’ll need help and resources and support, so many people have lost everything, but we’re going to rise up from these ashes and rebuild our communities.”Depsite losing his home in the fire, Wait expressed gratitude for the hundreds of firefighters currently battling the blaze.”It’s just incredible to see people who are not from there put their lives on the line. Words cannot describe how thankful we are for them. You see the signs about these heroes driving down the road, but until you’ve experienced something like this, you don’t really understand it, and I understand it now,” he says. “These people are truly putting their lives on the line for strangers. That’s just an incredible feeling knowing that we have these men and women who I’ll never meet who are putting their lives on the line to save a house.”

Source Link:
https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/10/us/california-family-wildfire-home-escape/index.html

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