NewsCovering Kern County

Actions

Residents are working through losses caused by River Fire

Colfax residents face losses by River Fire
Posted at 10:23 AM, Aug 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-08 13:23:02-04

COLFAX, Calif. (KERO) — "I lost my house in the fire. But it's OK. We're working it out together as a family," Emily Mathey said regarding the River Fire that’s currently burned 25,188 acres.

Crews have been working to contain the River Fire for a few days. Officials lifted evacuation orders for most of Placer County and many residents are hoping they'll have homes to return to. ABC reporter Stephanie Lin spent the day in Colfax and spoke with people in the area.

Emily Mathey manages a beach hut deli in Colfax to keep herself busy after she lost her house in the fire: "We've been trying to stay open just in case families need to come in. People's houses burned down, so not everyone has access to food."

Mathey grew up on Bear View Drive, just north of Colfax High School, and now she’s lost her childhood home after the River Fire.

Another resident, Eric Lunetta, has lived in Colfax for nine years and has never seen wildfire come so close. "It was just a pillar of smoke right from our house," Lunetta said.

Lunetta was unable to find a hotel for miles, and eventually ending up sheltering his family in the room in the back of their pizza factory in town. "A lot of people have just been struggling, sleeping in their cars and stuff, just waiting to go home."

Officials lifted evacuation orders for most residents on Friday night. To Lunetta’s surprise, he returned to find his home still standing: "We really got lucky, we were about a quarter mile from where it started. If it had gone the other way, we might not have our home."

Residents who live on Bear View Drive are still not allowed back on their properties. Due to the fact that parts of the ground are still smoldering, and trees nearby could fall at any moment.

Emily Mathey rises above the challenges she’s currently facing: "It doesn't help to just sit and be upset. Obviously it's devastating, but the only way to get past it is to move forward."

Eric Lunetta feels similarly: "I think everyone got out safe. And let's hold on to that. We can rebuild."