California fire evacuees shelter in parking lot

Evacuees who fled the raging Dixie Fire in northern California left their homes with whatever they could carry, and wound up here: a parking lot in the town of Susanville, with nowhere to go.

Forty-eight-year-old Greg Norton from the town of Chester told Reuters about the frantic dash that led him and his wife here.

"We could see the fire cresting over the mountain on its way into the Chester area and frantic phone calls to family members who were in the area, we need to get out, where were we meeting at? And trying to set up rendezvous points where we were going to meet everybody and plan our next move after that."

The Dixie Fire has scorched almost half a million acres. That’s an area larger than the city of Houston. It’s now the second-largest blaze recorded in state history.

Eighty-eight-year-old Betty Sicley fled the nearby town of Westwood last week with her seven dogs and other pets.

"So we took the animals and left. We've got a bird in there, and a cat in there, and these seven dogs. But we take care of all of them."

The evacuees have had help from American Red Cross volunteers.

"They have been wonderful. They bring us three meals a day. They do the laundry. I told somebody that earlier that this has been the cheapest camping trip I've ever had."

More than 5,000 firefighters are currently tackling the Dixie Fire.

For 76-year-old Robert Johns of Greenville, going back means confronting everything that’s lost.

"It really hasn't hit me hard yet but I think it will when I get back in town, and I see all these people who are just totally devastated that it just breaks my heart."