Oak Fire: Marin County native recently diagnosed with autoimmune disease loses home in wildfire near Yosemite


MARIPOSA, Calif. (KGO) — The Oak Fire in Mariposa County has burned thousands of acres, and as firefighters move forward, some people are now receiving an official message that their homes have been lost.

“The sheriff’s department just called me today to verify that my house had burned down,” said Chris Van Leuven of Mariposa.

RELATED: Air Quality Advisory Extended Through Wednesday in the Bay Area Due to Oak Fire Smoke

Van Leuven grew up in Marin County but rented a house on the outskirts of Mariposa. He was cycling with friends on Friday, looked back and saw smoke.

“There was a fire close to where we were and it grew very quickly,” Van Leuven said. “Black smoke billowed into the sky right away, and I’ve never seen a fire like this.”

Van Leuven, an outdoor enthusiast and journalist, was able to collect his dog and some of his items from his home, thinking he would be right back for more.

That never happened as the fire escalated, authorities evacuated the area and he received disturbing news for the second time in a week.

“That wasn’t the saddest thing or news I’ve had this week. I caught an autoimmune disease this week that I heard about, so I cried a lot about it, then my house burned down. It was kind of a lot more than I could handle,” Van Leuven said.

VIDEO: Report says smoke from Northern California wildfires will reach ‘unbearable’ levels due to climate change

Van Leuven’s house and its owner’s house are two of at least 55 structures that were destroyed in the oak fire.

Kara Franklin of Richmond took photos showing the plume of smoke she saw on her way to her father-in-law’s home in Coarsegold, California. She says smoke and ash were a major problem there.

“We were walking out of our hotel room to the car and there was soot everywhere, like it was raining,” Franklin said.

But as bad as it all seems, Van Leuven and others we spoke with are hopeful.

VIDEO: Stanford researchers identify ‘double hazard’ wildfire areas in the West

“You know, I’m sad, but I have my dog ​​Fenster next to me and that makes me happy,” Van Leuven said.

Van Leuven’s friend Heidi Wirtz started a fundraising campaign. She shared Chris’ Venmo info: @ChrisVanLeuven on her Facebook page with a note that reads in part, “My dear friend Chris Van Leuven needs help! Chris just lost his home in the Mariposa Fire #oakfire. Not only was he displaced and lost a lot of his stuff, but he was also diagnosed with a pretty harmful autoimmune disease last week.”

For a better experience, click here to see the full map in a new window

RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:

  • Map shows areas most at risk in California for damaging wildfires
  • How to Prepare for a Wildfire Evacuation
  • How to prepare your pets for disaster
  • How to make an emergency pet carrier
  • California’s most destructive wildfires in history
  • California’s deadliest wildfires in history
  • Live: Track air quality levels in the Bay Area
  • How are forest fires started? A look at the causes of some of the worst in California history
  • The difference between containing and controlling a wildfire
  • What’s in the smoke from forest fires? How it can affect your health
  • What are diablo winds and how can they influence wildfires in Northern California?
  • What you need to know about Santa Ana winds and California wildfires
  • Safety tips to remember when returning home after a wildfire
  • How to choose a mask to protect yourself during a forest fire
  • Red flag warning: what to do in case of a dangerous fire?
  • Everything you need to know about the red flame retardant that fell during forest fires
  • What happens to animals during forest fires?
  • How to drive safely during a power outage
  • How Wildfires Create a Serious Threat to Floods and Mudslides
  • These planes are on the front lines of the fight against California wildfires
  • If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

    Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All rights reserved.



    ABC7

    Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
    Back to top button