Couple details how they found out to evacuate for the Head Fire

YREKA, Calif. – A couple who evacuated on Tuesday only found out about the Head Fire when they tried to go home, but a road closure forced them to turn around.

“One of those thermal, cumulus, boils that come up,” Seiad Valley resident Tim Fitzpatrick. “It was much more intense and larger than a thunder cloud.”

Tim and Melanie Fitzpatrick describing what they witnessed on Tuesday, when they tried drive to their home in Seiad Valley.

Little did they know, this was the Head Fire.

“As we preceded down 96 from Klamath River, we kept thinking we were going to get past it, but we never did,” Tim said. “It got bigger, and bigger, and bigger. When we got to the Klamath River bridge at Horse Creek, that’s when we met the highway patrol and we wouldn’t let us go any farther.”

The Head Fire is burning in the Klamath National Forest, just south of Seiad Valley near Scott Bar.

Neighbors told the Fitzpatricks Seiad Valley appears untouched thus far.

“Well, I was just glad to hear my neighbor say everything was fine in Seiad,” Melanie said. “Our home was fine and their home was fine and what a relief.”

The couple say this isn’t the first time they’ve been evacuated for a fire, it’s happened five other times.

They came to the shelter, set up in Yreka, with nothing but their groceries and vehicle.

But they say it’s been an enjoyable experience at the Kahtishraam Wellness Center.

“They’re so sweet and so nice and willing to do anything to make you comfortable,” Melanie said.

“They went and got us breakfast this morning, over at the Black Bear,” Tim said. “Water, cold water, and snacks, bananas.”

The couple says they plan to stay at the shelter until they’re able to go back.

So far, only a handful of people have checked in with the shelter.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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