Relief and heartache await those starting to return home to a Southern California wildfire zone.
Eager to know the status of his house, 69-year-old Roger Kelly defied evacuation ordered on Sunday and hiked back into Seminole Springs, his lakeside mobile home community in the Santa Monica Mountains north of Malibu.
His got the thrill of finding his house intact. But some a half-block away were laid to waste, as were dozens more, and virtually everything on the landscape around the community had been turned to ash.
“I just started weeping,” Kelly said. “I just broke down. Your first view of it, man it just gets you.” The community where Kelly and his wife have lived for 28 years and raised two children was among the hardest hit by the so-called Woolsey fire that broke out Thursday, destroying at least 177 homes and leaving two people dead.