Families who were camping in the Sierra National Forest had a terrifying experience when the massive Creek Fire surrounded the Mammoth Pool area, on the border of Madera and Fresno Counties.
The fire has burned more than 45,000 acres and is 0% contained, according to the latest report from Fresno fire officials.
Sonia Portillo’s family has been going to the same spot for Labor Day weekend for 15 years.
She translated for her father, Damasco Portillo.
"He’s saying that before getting airlifted, everyone had anxiety," Portillo said. "They were scared. They were panicking. They did not know what was going to happen because there was smoke - there was fire all around them. There was no way out."
Other evacuees were brought to the Fresno Convention Center, including 12-year-old Maicon Maradiaga. He traveled from L.A. County for a camping trip with his family.
"It was pretty scary and there was a lot of smoke," said Maradiaga. "It was really dark as well. All you could see is just the fire."
His aunt, Mara Diaga, told KCBS Radio that they became stuck at the reservoir.
"We were trying to get out one way and they said 'no, there’s fire and we have to run everybody to the lake'," she said. "So, there were still fires on both sides."
At one point, authorities told people to get in the water if necessary.
"The kids were panicking," Diaga said. "Us too. We put wet blankets on top of us, outside the cars, because we were afraid the flame was going to come to the cars too."
Now, the family is driving home - their vacation cut short - but relieved to have escaped unharmed.