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Caldor fire evacuees return early to Carpinteria in smoke filled end to vacation

CARPINTERIA, Calif. - A Carpinteria family is back safely after evacuating from a summer vacation when the recent Caldor fire erupted in the Northern Sierra Nevada range where several fires have been devastating in the last two months.

"We went knowing the Dixie might have some impact as far as smoke goes," said Jaime Diamond.

She was with her family at a cabin in the area for a few days and while the air was smoke-filled from other fires, the Caldor fire was what sent them packing.

"We went fishing and went hiking and the smoke definitely got worse pretty quickly and up the fire. Every time I looked, it doubled again and doubled again," she said.

It has burned over 65,000 acres of forest land in the El Dorado National Forest.

When the ash started falling from the sky, that was the warning to get moving.

"The sky was dark, it was dark orange, it was purple, it was pretty but terrifying and I was sitting out on the deck that morning and I kept hearing things falling on the roof, and I started looking. The next thing I know an ember about this big fell on my shirt," Diamond said, holding her hands a few inches apart.

They left Tuesday night and returned to Carpinteria.

It was nearly a seven-hour drive.

Getting out in what would be the normal daylight, "We needed our headlights, there was so much ash, we needed our mask we needed our respirators. It was full-on Thomas fire mode again," she said. Diamond took many pictures of the scene around the cabin, the roads and the drive away from the fire zone.

Later they learned a mandatory evacuation was called.

Diamond said, "We would have had to have evacuated at 8 o'clock at night had we not left earlier so it was a good call for us but it was definitely harrowing. "

Back at home now, the kids are getting ready for school next week when the Carpinteria Unified School District resumes. Diamond is also a school board member.

As for a quiet, rustic trip, Diamond said, "They got in plenty of fishing and hiking and outdoor fun but they are definitely bummed. Between the fire and plague squirrels that were at the lake it was kind of a crazy trip!"

Lifestyle / Outdoors / Safety / Santa Barbara - South County / Travel / Video
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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