Community of El Capitan feeling impact of Telegraph Fire devastation

The Telegraph Fire is still growing to the south, past the community of El Capitan.

Latest Updates: What to know about the Telegraph Fire: Evacuations ordered, highways closed

As crews continue to battle the blaze, the damage has already been done, as there are structures in the El Capitan area that were destroyed.

Couple witnessed spread of wildfire, remains optimistic for the future

 For two people impacted by fire's destruction, they are staying optimistic, despite losing everything they worked for.

"We were so excited. We were just about finished with the remodel, and then this," said Todd Strawdinger.

Strawdinger and Tari Infante only enjoyed their dream home in El Capitan for a couple months. They are ready to retire on 40 acres of land, but instead, they are now taking shelter at Globe Middle School, after they evacuated from their home on June 14.

"There was a lot of smoke, a lot of flames. We were watching it roll down the hill toward us, and we could hear the sound of it. Sounded like a jet engine. It was scary. We were getting ash falling on us," said Infante.

Strawdinger and Infante got out just in time. Their home has been reduced to rubble and ash.

"We don't know if any living thing is left on our land. Do we rebuild and sit there and look at scorched land? We don't know," said Infante.

Firefighters say at one point, the fire traveled at six miles per hour when the wind hit its peak.

Infante and Strawdinger did come out with personal mementos, but wish they could gather so much more. They are grateful their pets are safe, and their hearts go out to other residents who lost everything.

"We still have each other, and we still have a chance to get back to where we were," said Strawdinger.

On June 17, Infante and Strawdinger will get to go see their home, or what's left of it, for the first time. They say that's when reality will hit them.

Ranch destroyed by blaze

On June 18, a rancher in the area said his ranch was lost to the fire.

"It looks like a moonscape," said Roger Dahling. "It’s so black out there."

We spoke with Dahling via a phone interview, as he made his way to the community, where he owns a 2,500 acre ranch.

"It’s just been hard because everyone is trying to evacuate and help each other out here," said Dahling.

Dahling said he has owned the ranch for four years, and has worked so hard to get it to where it was at prior to the fire.

"I don’t know how many cows I have left. I had 80 out there," said Dahling. "We don’t know. They could be burnt up out there, they could’ve gone and broke through the fence. We don’t know yet."

During the interview, Dahling was struggling to fight back the tears. Although he is uncertain of what he might find, he is thinking about others in the community, as well as those who have lost it all.

Extended Wildfire Coverage:

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