By Wilson Walker

WINDSOR (KPIX) — Things have by no means returned to normal in the areas evacuated during the Kincade Fire, but Thursday was a step in that direction.

“I think it’s good to see everything here,” said Windsor resident Pauline Darro as she made her way back into her home for the first time in eight days. “I’m so thankful for the first responders who held the fire at Foothill Park and saved Windsor.”

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In a town that very much feels saved, people came back home in numbers that sometimes overwhelmed Highway 101. Despite some of the lingering challenges from the fire and PG&E outages, it was good to be home.

“Would just like a nice hot bath but we got a wait till at least tomorrow till the gas is back on,” said William Mitchell as he pulled into his driveway.

“It’s way better to be home,” said Lorraine Gray. “We were in a motel for three days, my dad’s for four days. So yeah, it’s good to be home.”

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Most of the homes that were lost are in areas that remain closed off, scattered along hillsides and the edge of the Alexander Valley. There is no collection of devastation like Fountain Grove or Coffey Park from the Wine Country wildfires. Homes that were saved here are often surrounded by that telling shade of pink from fire retardant drops.

The burn area is still closed for good reason. Crews are on nearly every road, clearing damaged trees and debris.

“We have a 25 mile stretch,” said Joe Sunderland, a member of a tree removal crew from Santa Cruz. “We’ve got three sets of cutters, one up top, one on the middle, one the bottom. We’re trying to get this road open today.”

Not far away, some normalcy was returning, along with a lot of grateful people.

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“People coming back,” said Candyss Lewis of Windsor. “It’s looking good. We’ve got a great little community here, so everyone’s checking on everyone, making sure we’re all good.”