SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The massive wildfire burning in the east foothills above San Jose and Morgan Hill triggered a large evacuation earlier this week as well as questions from neighbors about being displaced by a blaze miles from their home.
“Your mind immediately goes to the worst-case scenario. You’re thinking you’re saying goodbye to your house. And you’re thinking it might not be here when I come back,” says evacuee Lisa Berry, who left her home in the east foothills Wednesday night.
Cal Fire ordered the evacuation of a large swath of East San Jose Wednesday even though they had successfully slowed or stopped the fire’s westward march towards homes.
“The citizens are the most important thing to us. So, we have to change from a firefight to evacuating residents from their houses,” says Cal Fire Spokesperson David Janssen.
Janssen says Cal Fire has more aggressively evacuated neighborhoods in the potential path of a fire after the devastating loss of life in the wine country wildfires. Large-scale evacuations, Cal Fire says, allows them to have a singular focus on fighting the actual fire.
But that more aggressive approach had some unintended consequences, often making it difficult to convince dubious neighbors to evacuate.
“We have about half the neighbors who have stayed and about half the neighbors who have left,” says Kira White.
White evacuated with her elderly father, his caregiver and her pets Wednesday night — a decision she has not second-guessed for a minute.
“The last thing that I want to do is be in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Mt. Hamilton Road with smoke and fire all around me in an emergency situation with an elderly dad,” says White.