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Many refuse to leave despite mandatory evacuations for Helena Fire

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JUNCTION CITY, Calif. - Many people living in Junction City may have left their homes but they're refusing to leave their city behind despite mandatory evacuations for the Helena Fire.

Worried homeowners crowded the streets refusing to leave the evacuated city, uncertain whether they'll have anything to return to once the smoke settles.

Linda Vandenbosch was camped out by a local market, waiting to find out whether her home was still standing on Red Hill.

"Tons of firefighters are coming through. We were here all night long sleeping in our car," Vandenbosch said.

She said because firefighters have been attacking the fire on the ground, it's hard to gauge how many homes are still standing.

"I have friends whose houses are gone," Vandenbosch said.

Vandenbosch said she and her family packed up and left around 9:00 p.m. Wednesday.

"We saw the flames that were across the highway," Vandenbosch said.

She said they were only able to grab a few belongings.

Roger Smith opened up their community building North Fork Grange for those who needed a place to stay.

"Anybody in the Junction City area, residents, nonresidents that are trapped in here. There's lots of people that don't want to leave the area and leave their homes," Smith said.

He said doors will be open 24/7.

"We have restrooms, we have bottled water, there could be some kitchen and refrigeration available for any families in the area that would need it," Vandenbosch said.

Most evacuees plan on staying instead of heading to the evacuation center in Weaverville.

"Once you go out, you can't get back in. So we want to stay on this side so we can hear better information," Vandenbosch said.

Bigfoot Campground was destroyed, and USFS said at least 130 structures have been destroyed or damaged.

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