Remaining Willow Fire evacuees to go home Tuesday - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Remaining Willow Fire evacuees to go home Tuesday

One of the structures that burned to the ground in the Willow Fiore. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) One of the structures that burned to the ground in the Willow Fiore. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

Fire officials have gained the upper hand on the Willow Fire burning in the Mohave Valley along the western border of Arizona.

On Monday, most of the evacuated residents were allowed back into their homes. Only about 75 homes in the Topock area southeast of Bullhead City remained under an evacuation order. Those residents were told they will be able to return home Tuesday at 10 a.m. 

Several residents living in the still evacuated area gathered at the roadblock, hoping they would at least be able to retrieve some much-needed items left behind when they evacuated at a moment’s notice. 

"My dad’s diabetic and his heart medication is in there and everything else," said Aaron Collins, who evacuated Saturday.  "They won’t let us in, and you know, everybody here has animals that they’re trying to get to, to get food and water. It’s bad."

Around 300 firefighters have been working the fire on the ground and from the air. The first official containment of 10 percent came Monday morning, but officials said by Monday night that percentage would be greatly increased, possibly doubled. 

[STORY: Willow Fire grows to 6,780 acres]

Some residents do not know what will greet them when they return home. They know homes, outlying buildings and cars have been scorched, but they do not know if their properties are among the casualties. 

"I live right off of Deadwood and Ranchero, which is only two streets off of the street where most of the houses got wiped out," homeowner Steve Monte said. "As of yesterday morning, my house was still there.  I don’t know if it’s there today, though."

Terry King knows the fate of his home. On Saturday, he watched as flames devoured his neighbor’s home and cried as he saw the fire encroach on his garage. 

"It was just surreal," he said. "I mean that’s a good word for it. I had to leave because two sheriffs came down and said, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'That's my house.' And they said, 'You have to leave.' I said, 'I know,'" King told us as he fought back tears.

[SLIDESHOW: Photos of Willow Fire]

Officials caution residents that hazards will be present when they are allowed back onto their properties. Electric lines may be on the ground, hot spots may be present, and firefighters and their equipment will still be in the area. 

The fire broke out Saturday morning in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. Its cause is under investigation, but there was lightning in the area when the fire started.

Mohave Valley is more than 3.5 hours northwest of Phoenix, just east of the Arizona-California border and north of I-40.

Officials have set up a Facebook page to provide information on the fire.

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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