Nearly 5,000 people were evacuated from Mariposa County this week after a massive wildfire swept through the area. But Jason Hawley, a resident of the historic mining town of Mariposa, wasn't one of them: He rejected the evacuation order, saying he wanted to stay in an effort to save his home.
Hawley used his 3,000-gallon water tank to wet his house and a tractor to cut a line around it. “And we literally saved it by inches,” he said.
He tried to save his neighbor's house, too. A lifelong Mariposa resident, Hawley went to high school with the people who used to live there and the families are still close.
“Oh, this is so sad. This is everything -- I mean literally this is all of his work stuff, his home. This is everything he had,” he said.
While trying to save his neighbor’s property, Hawley filmed his efforts. In the video, which he shared with KQED, Hawley can be heard saying: “People leave and they don’t realize they can fight fire. People just let their house burn down. They can save their houses. Now I have to!”
Hawley, who barely saved his own house, said it fell to him to let his friends know everything was gone.
According to officials, 58 homes and 60 other buildings were destroyed by the wildfire that burned 115 square miles and threatened 1.500 homes.
As of Friday morning, firefighters have lifted the evacuation orders for Mariposa County. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
KQED's Vanessa Rancano contributed to this report.