Burned-down homes await some Central Washington residents

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Some families who fled the path of the Taylor Bridge Fire face the worst news as they return to homes burned to the ground.

KIRO 7 found houses Wednesday that had been reduced to rubble, as smoke and flames engulfed another neighborhood, Upper Hidden Valley, in the distance.

Our crew couldn’t help but stop along State Route 97 when they saw the charred mess around the house where Daniel Kaynor’s mother lives. What three days ago was a field of green juniper trees is now just blackened earth and debris.

Kaynor said his mother and stepfather only had minutes to get out.

“The fire was probably about a mile away from us,” he said. “We watched the fire early that day traveling about one mile every five minutes.”

He credits firefighters with saving their house, but his neighbor, who lives just north, is not as lucky. That home was reduced to cinderblocks.

While the KIRO 7 crew collected images of the destruction, a fire truck arrived. Firefighters said they received a report of hot spots, so they came to prevent more damage.

KIRO 7 also found a group of neighbors, evacuated from their homes, outside a senior center. They could only rely on rumors and worry that their worst fears would be realized.

“Carl called last night and he said our place – he thinks it’s still there,” said Eugene Smith, one of the evacuees.

“It doesn’t give you too much hope,” said Joanne Briggs, another evacuee. “I didn’t have it, you know, standing there and bawling and crying yesterday.”