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Ordered To Leave Their Homes, Creek Fire Evacuees Decide What Goes With Them

CalFire - Fresno County District Twitter
After the Creek Fire broke out a week ago, Madera and Fresno Sheriff's deputies have been issuing evacuation orders for communities throughout the Sierra National Forest. While containment is still far off, there haven't been any deaths due to the fire.

More than 30,000 people in Fresno County have had to leave their homes due to the Creek Fire. 

Sharon Souza is one of them. She left Tollhouse Tuesday morning, but spent the weekend deciding what items would stay and what would go. She says she tried to be practical rather than sentimental.  

“At some point, when I realized ‘I can’t take everything with me,’ I actually, one night, went around and took pictures of my pictures on the wall,” she says. “I took pictures of family favorite recipes, I did things like that.”

Credit Courtesy of Sharon Souza
Souza says among the items she left behind is her antique Pyrex dish collection. She says, however, she did grab her Pyrex butter dish.

Souza is now staying in her van in Clovis. She plans to hit the road to Montana, where her son lives, later this week. She already had plans to drive there, and says the evacuation moved her trip up a week.

Anna Hamre, director of the Fresno Community Chorus, says along with the essentials, she had to grab one more thing before evacuating from Auberry on Monday.

“I’m a choir director, I had to have my collected box of scores,” Hamre says and then laughs.

In addition to getting herself to safety, Hamre also had to evacuate her animals. A friend of a friend took her three chickens. Hamre took her dog and cat with her, and another friend set her up with people who could evacuate her three donkeys.

“I met these guys at 5 a.m., real heroic fellows,” says Hamre. “They got the donkeys loaded up, and took them over to Sierra High School, and then we kind of lost track of them.” The donkeys, not the fellows who transported them.

After Hamre and her partner drove into Clovis, they stopped by the city’s rodeo grounds, where big animals were being cared for, but they had no luck locating their donkeys.

Eventually, a friend found the donkeys who had been confused for animals belonging to the Clovis East High School Future Farmers of America club. Hamre says the donkeys are doing well under the FFA students and advisor’s care.

In the meantime, she and her partner are staying with friends in Sanger. 

In an update released Thursday morning, officials wrote they expect full containment of the fire by October 15. 

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.
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