The small town of Weed, California was devastated by a fast-moving wildfire that erupted Monday, destroying at least 100 homes and forcing thousands in the town to be evacuated to emergency shelters. More than 1,000 firefighters were still working to battle the blaze on Wednesday morning, according to NBC News.
As of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, the fire was just 25% contained and has so far consumed 375 acres, according to CalFire. Three injuries were reported.
“At the peak, essentially the entire town was evacuated,” fire spokesman Robert Foxworthy told NBC.
“It’s horrible,” Weed resident Dan Linville, 80, told the Christian Science Monitor. “I’ve got tears in my heart for all these people that I know who lost their homes.”
Linville estimated that nearly a quarter of the town burned, although there are no reports of deaths related to the wildfire.
According to NBC, the Holy Family Catholic Church was completely burned to the ground, with just “the outlines of a cross visible on a section of wall left standing.” Homes and cars were reduced to blackened rubble, while a portion of the elementary school was also badly burned. The town sawmill caught fire in what NBC called a “symbolic blow” for a town that was founded by mill owner Abner Weed in 1897 because the strong winds were suitable for drying lumber.
“Feeling completely helpless, standing there with everyone not knowing what to do or where to go, was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to deal with,” resident Tasha Davis, who evacuated with her two young children, told NBC.
Carrie Hadaway, who works at the Hi-Lo Cafe on Weed Boulevard, the town’s main street, said most of the businesses on the street managed to avoid the worst of the fire.
“Everybody is coming in [to the cafe], giving people hugs,” she told NBC. “A lot of people lost their homes. We’re kind of a tight community. We’re pretty devastated here.”
Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/AP