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Wildfire rips through NorCal city

August 31, 2009 2:05:18 PM PDT
Home after home in the Sierra Foothill community of Auburn is leveled. The latest numbers show 50 homes and 10 businesses have burned down with 50 percent containment.The fast-moving fire broke out around 2 p.m. Sunday and has scorched 275 acres since. Wind gusts up to 25 mph helped the fire roar through subdivisions in north Auburn very quickly, helping flames jump from grassland to homes in an instant.

Residents had little time to escape.

Still in her pajamas, Rachel Higgs barely had enough time to grab her 7-month-old baby who was just wearing a diaper.

"I had to run, shaking, to get my daughter. I grabbed her from her sleep, and I was running outside, and everyone was basically gone, except this one neighbor guy. He came by, asked if I needed a ride, and he helped us," says Rachel Higgs.

Monday, there's practically nothing left of the Higgs' home.

Owner Tami Higgs just can't believe what's happened. She was at a wedding when the fire roared through her neighborhood. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was nearby touring the devastation, when he walked over to her and comforted her.

"We lost everything," says Tami Higgs crying on the governor's shoulder.

The Higgs came close to losing their home to another fire several years ago, but they weren't as lucky this time.

"It's just like an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. There were things burning all over the place; it looked like a Hollywood film," says Tami Higgs.

Firefighters are still keeping an eye on hotspots and are hoping those same gusty winds that fanned the flames stay at bay.

The Governor assures fire victims throughout California that the state will do everything it can to help them through these tragedies.

"It's sad when you see that. When you see everything with nothing left destroyed. My heart goes out to those people," says Gov. Schwarzenegger.

The fire nearly killed one elderly woman who couldn't escape the burning house on her own. Her son alerted a deputy who is being heralded a hero.

"I kicked in the door and navigated my way through the smoke, and found her still standing there. I picked her up and carried her out," says Placer County Sheriff's Deputy Ken Skogen.

The forecast calls for more winds, but firefighters say no homes are threatened at this point. Investigators are focusing on grassland that borders this neighborhood trying to figure out what caused this fire.

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