As the Woolsey Fire continued burning Monday night, some residents in Calabasas returned to their homes despite a mandatory evacuation order still in effect throughout the city.
Along Moorpark Road, some residents returned to their homes as early as Friday, when the Woolsey Fire exploded to 35,000 acres and had already killed two people in Malibu after erupting just a day earlier. They tried hosing down their homes and those of their neighbors, hoping to salvage what they could.
On Monday evening, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials issued a warning to the county's residents to stay out of evacuation zones, saying the areas have unstable ground vulnerable to landslides, downed power lines, unhealthy air quality and no access to cell phone usage or power.
By that time, the fire had burned through 93,662 acres, or just over 146 square miles. It was 30 percent contained.
But some in Calabasas still returned again, traveling into the area on bicycles, scooters or walking through since roads remained closed.
Melanie Turquand and Tina Leeney, friends who have lived in the same neighborhood for two decades, went back despite still being under the mandatory evacuation order. They said they were trying to help one another sort through the devastating damage.
While some homes were still somewhat intact, others were reduced to rubble. Several homes along Moorpark Road had only charred skeletal remains left, with piles of ash and debris lying where large houses once stood.
"It’s so hard to look across the street," said Leeney, who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years.
"When I came back and I got back up on the roof to help and I was hosing everything down, and I looked up and ... saw all the houses that were lost, I started to cry," Leeney said.
Meanwhile, some felt obligated to help firefighters battling the flames on the ground.
Ohad Tayeb, another resident, said he grabbed a garden hose from his neighbor's home and started watering down houses.
"We just tried to do our best to help the brave firefighters," Tayeb said. "It was really hard not to come and try to do something."
Working to look through the debris and protect their homes, neighbors shared food among one another and checked in on each other — hoping the community would soon work past the disaster.
"It just puts tears in your eyes when you see people fighting for your home," Tayeb said.