Five homes in the Cascadel Woods community were burglarized while residents were under mandatory evacuation during the Willow fire, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
Most of the break-ins were discovered Sunday night after the evacuation order for Cascadel Woods was lifted at 9 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office said.
Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney said it would appear that the crimes were committed by someone on foot. The burglaries reported so far involved houses on Vista Drive.
“We regret that citizens who were sensible and cooperative with the evacuations were victimized by most likely one of their own neighbors who refused to cooperate in evacuating the Cascadel area,” Varney said.
As of Monday morning the Willow fire was 70% contained, a 10% improvement from a day earlier, Cal Fire reported. The agency also adjusted the size of the blaze Monday afternoon, raising the burn area to 5,702 acres.
A mandatory evacuation order was lifted Monday morning for the Central Camp area. The remaining evacuation orders will end at 10 a.m. Tuesday for Willow Canyon Road and Douglas Ranger Station Road. Access will be limited just to residents with proper ID.
More than 1,300 firefighters have worked the Willow blaze, which officials have said was sparked by a teenager who ignited pine tree branches. The cost of fighting the fire is now estimated at $16.3 million.
Although 450 structures are threatened, none has been damaged.