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Some residents are refusing to evacuate to protect their home

French Fire 3 Aug. 20 2021
Posted at 10:08 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 03:56:01-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The French Fire has burned for exactly one week. Firefighters are working constantly to get it contained as residents are being evacuated and missing their homes.

“It's been hard, really hard. I just want to go home,” said Larena Lundy, Wofford Heights resident

Lundy and her family spent the night on the side of the streets in her car alongside her four children and pets.

“I went out to help a friend out and take him to Kernville and when I came back, they had the roads closed sign here. So, I was like oh my god what do we do,” said Lundy.

A barrier is blocking Lundy from getting to her 17-year-old son and other household pets just up the hill with others facing similar issues.

“I asked them if I can go up there to get my cats out of there. Cause my cats are trapped in the house. Those are my babies man. You can’t let your babies burn up,” said Julie Reese a Wofford Heights resident.

Multiple vehicles were lined up Wednesday near Burlando Road with residents pleading with law enforcement to let them through.

Officials escorted some to their homes before directing them back down.

The Wofford Heights community has been declared unsafe prompting evacuation orders due to the French Fire. But, for some they are choosing not to evacuate to protect their property, as some do not have fire insurance.

“We have people and friends up there that are staying up there fighting the fire. They have their own generators and stuff. So, I went to the store. I'm trying to bring them supplies food and stuff to drink. I just need to get half a mile up old state road,” said Eric Swiggum a retired firefighter.

Seneca Smith with California Fire Team 12 is asked people to make their way down the hill.

“There's not enough firefighting resources or law enforcement to provide escorts for everybody. Not to mention if the fire were to re-emerge and threaten the community which it still is. Then again we will pull back from fire suppression efforts to rescue people once more,” said Smith.

Smith said crews have a lot more work to do.

“Because of the threat of the fire and how active it's been in the evening. Those helicopters are running non-stop. Pilots are only allowed to fly for so many hours before they're required a rest break and most of them timed out on their maximum hours,” said Smith.

There are over 1,100 personnel working on the fire with the hope of gaining a solid containment by September 7.