GUINDA, Calif. — The Sand Fire in northern Yolo County started just before 3 p.m. Saturday and grew to 1,700 acres within six hours. Rumsey residents are under a mandatory evacuation, while Guinda is under an evacuation advisory.
(Here's a real-time map of the evacuation zones from Yolo County)
Evacuees and those just on the outskirts of the evacuation zone remember having to leave their homes less than a year ago, for the County Fire of late June 2018.
That’s why the Sand Fire’s start date of June 8 felt too soon, evacuee Gage Hutchens said.
“We’ve had a lot of rain and so it just wasn’t in my mind,” Hutchens said, “But quickly, obviously, I walked outside and it was pretty apparent. It’s, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s right there,’ and then it’s, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s right there.’”
He watched Saturday afternoon as the flames of the Sand Fire passed right by his property.
“I live in the northernmost property in Rumsey, so the fire came over from Colusa County and literally just went by us at a diagonal and then crossed the creek and continued on,” he said.
He spoke with ABC10 outside Guinda Corner Store, after he evacuated.
Hutchens has lived there full-time since 2011 and evacuated with his family due to poor air quality during last year’s County Fire.
“It’s a new normal that I think we’re all kind of aware of,” Hutchens said. “It certainly motivates me to keep a nice, clear space and rake up those pine cones, get rid of that stuff.”
Laurel Hansen-Flask and Ken Flask own Luna Lavender Farms in Guinda and remember last year’s County Fire as well, in which they lost their back 40.
“I think you used the word PTSD because last year in the County Fire, our property was surrounded by the fire,” Flask said.
In this fire, their property is just outside Saturday’s evacuation area. They worried, however, what the winds and fire would do overnight.
“It kind of all kicked in. You know, you start to think, ‘Okay, I have to get this, I have to grab that, we’ve got to this and get out,’” Flash said.
“You just get your plan going. You have your plan in your mind,” Hansen-Flash said.
After experiencing last year’s evacuation, they said they purchased more pet crates for future evacuations. They, like Hutchens, didn’t expect fire season to return quite so soon.
“That was the surprise. We were like, ‘Oh this red flag warning, oh no, it’s not going to be anything.’ And sure enough,” Hansen-Flash said.
This early June fire threat comes on top of PG&E’s preventive power outages to stop wildfires in the first place.
RELATED: Q&A on PG&E power shutoff plan
“I think a lot of city people don’t realize that when we lose power in the country, we lose water,” Hutchens said. “Everybody’s pump – everybody’s – is electric.”
It’s a problem that’s so much bigger than fire, involving electricity, water, warning systems, climate change and more — a problem with no clear solution.
“We are learning so much about how to navigate the challenges of nature!” Hansen-Flask said.
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