Firefighters battling the wildfires in California say some residents have pulled guns on them because they don’t want to evacuate, according to a report.
Crews encountered the armed homeowners this week as the Dixie fire, which has been raging for three-weeks, tore towards the town of Greenville in the state’s north.
“We have firefighters that are getting guns pulled out on them because people don’t want to evacuate,” California Incident Management operations section chief Jake Cagle told CBS5 on Thursday.
“That’s just the duality. That’s what it is. Not trying to place the blame on the landowners. We understand, our hearts go out to them.”
Cagle said evacuations had been challenging for fire crews and law enforcement.
When people ignore evacuation orders, Cagle said firefighters have to spend precious time helping transport residents in fire vehicles instead of battling the blaze.
“The impacts, the devastation we understand. That’s why we are here, we are trying to do the best we can. That is our sole intention. But again it comes down to life threat and that’s what we need to manage,” he said.
Cagle said Wednesday was a particularly “tough” day for crews, adding: “There is stuff out there that we didn’t want to see.”
The wildfires ended up decimating Greenville — a town dating to California’s gold rush era where some wooden buildings were more than 100 years old.
A gas station, church, hotel, museum and bar were among the fixtures gutted in the fire.
Plumas County Sheriff Tom Johns said “well over” 100 homes were destroyed.
“We lost Greenville tonight,” US Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who represents the area, said in an emotional Facebook video. “There’s just no words.”
The sheriff’s office had issued multiple evacuation warnings this week, with the town’s 800 residents being told on Wednesday: “You are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!”
A similar warning was issued on Thursday as the flames raged towards the southeast in the direction of another tiny mountain community, Taylorsville, about 10 miles southeast of Greenville.
The blaze, which has blackened more than 504 square miles — an area larger than Los Angeles — appeared to have been coming under control until 40-mph gusts and bone-dry vegetation fueled it again, officials said.
The cause is still under investigation.
Pacific Gas & Electric has previously said it may have been sparked when a tree fell on one of its power lines.
With Post Wires.