The Creek Fire in Sylmar, California has burned more than 15,600 acres and damaged or destroyed more than 150 homes and buildings.
The fire was 80 percent contained as of Saturday morning when residents were allowed back into their neighborhoods to survey the damage.
Raymond Yepez was sifting through 15 years of memories where his home used to stand.
"It just came so fast because of the wind," he said.
The wind fanned flames before dawn Tuesday. Families raced to escape the wildfire as it devoured landscape and homes.
"It happens too much,” Yepez said. “It always gets close, but you never think it's going to happen to you."
He said all that really matters is that his family got out alive, but now he wonders how to tell his 10-year-old what he's seen.
"That's from my daughter's stuff," he said pointing to some papers. "My daughter hasn't even seen this. She wants to come here because she thinks there's stuff to salvage, but there's nothing left."
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Beverly Dupree's home was spared, but her neighbors weren't as lucky.
"We just cried together, we just cried together because what can you say?" she said.
The charred palm tree in her front lawn is a reminder of how close it came.
"This was burning all the way to the top," she said pointing to the tree.
She said her neighbor alerted her to the fire as it swooped in over the ridge.
"He called around and knocked on doors," she said. "Everything was burning. The skies were just blazing red, smoke everywhere."
All that's left is soot and ash and a neighborhood that's forever changed.
"Whether or not they come back, it's up in the air right now," Dupree said.
"It can be replaced, but I don't know if I want to stay here anymore," Yepez said.