Cherokee Fire victims begin to return home to devastation


OROVILLE, Calif. - Wednesday, the people who lost homes on Coal Canyon Road in the Cherokee Fire began to look through what remained.

"Terrible, ugly," said Filemon Gutierrez. "You don't think it'll happen to you, but it does."

Gutierrez looked sadly over what was left of the place he called home for more than 55 years. Using a piece of metal, he poked around, trying to find anything salvageable.

"Photos, videotapes of my family," Gutierrez said. He lost his wife nearly 20 years ago. Now, everything he had to remember her by is lost too.

He said he had only moments to get out before the flames flew in and has little hope of finding what really mattered to him still intact. He was home at the time the fire came roaring over the hill and said within minutes, it had reached his property.

"I thought maybe like last year, I'd have more time to load up. Not the whole thing you know, but like clothes and stuff. Paperwork, all my paperwork," said Gutierrez.

Gutierrez was modest about what he needs now, but a neighbor said these people living on Coal Canyon Road have nothing left. "Nothing much, just a couple of pants, couple of shirts," said Gutierrez.

All that is left, uncertainty about how, or if, they'll ever be able to rebuild.

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