|Geann Pineda |||Feb 09, 2015 10:02 AM EST|
Wildfires continue to rage on two California towns as residents remain stuck at evacuation centers.
Ira Hanson, whose house was damaged by the wildfire, milled around an evacuation near Swall Meadows Sunday afternoon, after fleeing from the home he and his wife built some 30 years ago.
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He only has with him his medications and a pillow.
"It's unbelievable," said 79-year-old Hanson. "It's like having a nightmare and you're going to wake up any minute and it won't be true."
Fire officials said 40 houses were destroyed by the wildfires that began Friday afternoon on a highway bordering Inyo and Mono counties.
The blaze blew up when brutal winds whipped through the woods for three straight hours.
Residents felt horrified seeing a whole wall of red from afar.
"My friend had binoculars and she could see the skeletons of houses in the conflagration." said April Miller, as she watched the blaze from a nearby crest.
Firefighters had been struggling for days to contain the wildfires that gutted communities along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada.
Fire officials are unsure when the 250 evacuated residents will be able to return home but added that firefighters have already been able to contain 75 percent of the 11-square mile blaze after the rains moved in.
But the rain was not enough.
The three-year drought across California resulted to extremely dry timber brush that ignited the flames and pushed them up the Sierra slopes.
Swall Meadows, hit hard by the fire, is known for its sweeping views and snow-covered Sierras. It is also home to retirees and outdoor enthusiasts.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
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