Joe Biviano returned to his home Monday in Lake Hughes to find it burned to the ground by the massive Powerhouse fire.
Biviano recalled the time that he and his wife had spent at the four-bedroom home on Sylvan Drive as he walked amid the ruins of the burned-out property.
“We lived here for 15 years, but lost 40 years of memories,” said Biviano, 63, a test pilot for Lockheed Martin. “This is just stuff. But it still hurts when you don’t have your stuff.”
Biviano, who had been staying with friends in Palmdale since being evacuated, said he was unsure whether he would rebuild his home.
“It’s part of life,” he said. “We have to get through these hard parts. There’s a blessing at the end of this, I know it.”
He was among nearly 3,000 people who were allowed to return to their homes Monday afternoon as fire officials reported that crews had begun making headway on the huge fire. The blaze had burned 32,000 acres of grasses and explosive dry chaparral in the Angeles National Forest and high desert between Castaic and Lancaster.
On Monday evening, the fire was 60% contained as cooler weather and rising humidity helped firefighters build containment lines around the blaze. It doubled in size over the weekend after breaking out Thursday afternoon in Francisquito Canyon near a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power facility.
The blaze had destroyed at least seven structures and threatened more than 1,000 others as flames raged out of control over the weekend.
About 2,000 firefighters were battling the blaze Monday evening. They were being aided by eight helicopters and by air tankers that made repeated water and fire retardant drops as flames burned amid the steep, rugged terrain.
On Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it would reimburse up to 75% of the costs connected to battling the Powerhouse fire.
Officials estimate it will not be fully contained for another week.
A Red Cross evacuation center was operating at Marie Kerr Park at 39700 30th Street West in Palmdale. For more information about evacuations, residents can call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Palmdale at (661) 272-2400.