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Thankful Saratoga Springs residents back in homes while risk of Knolls Fire flare-up looms

knolls fire evacuees thankful homes were saved (6).PNG
“It’s terrifying,” said Travis Vanekelenburg. “As strong as the winds were, I thought all of these houses were going to be wiped out completely.” (Photo: KUTV)

Residents were able to return to their homes in evacuated areas on Monday after the Knolls Fire swept through Saratoga Springs.

One home is without power after the flames melted their electricity box, and a few sheds and sidings were burned. One home in an unincorporated area did burn down.

Saratoga Springs issues declaration of local emergency amid Knolls Fire

But many residents had burned fences or trampolines, and say they feel incredibly lucky.

“It’s terrifying,” said Travis Vanekelenburg. “As strong as the winds were, I thought all of these houses were going to be wiped out completely.”

Vanekelenburg has only lived in Saratoga Springs for two months, when the fire came perilously close to destroying his home.

“I figured it was going to be gone for sure," he said.

Evacuation orders came down when Vanekelenburg wasn’t home, but he forced his way back — his cat was still stuck inside.

“Everything was abandoned, fire people out in their suits, literally just fire burning everywhere. I ran in, got him, got out," he recalled.

But his home was unharmed. Down the road, the Wood family wasn’t sure they’d be so lucky.

“We didn’t know what we were going to come back to. Our Echo apps let us know that our smoke alarms were going off," said James Wood, standing next to his singed property line.

Sunday night, the family spent hours worrying.

“I felt pretty helpless. I don’t like the idea of being told I have to leave my property, especially when there is potential danger. I understand it; I don’t like it,” Wood said.

But their shed got the worst of it. Wood described the scene:

“It came right up here, you can see there are burned pieces of wood and stuff. I can only imagine the whole back end must have looked like a torch.”

Leaving a sense of relief, it could have been much worse.

“We came super close,” Wood said.

The city asks people who don’t live in the area not to come up to look at the burn scar. They said this afternoon that just a portion of the fire is contained, so there is still concern for flare-ups.

Saratoga Springs residents credit neighbor for shielding homes from Knolls Fire

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