Residents wait to return to homes |

Residents wait to return to homes

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Frustrated Kingsbury Grade residents trying to get back to their homes Thursday morning were turned around by law enforcement officials who guarded the closed highway for fire crews battling the Gondola Fire.

Those who needed to pick up pets and medication were sent to the Stateline Burger King parking lot where a shuttle service was provided by Douglas County Sheriff’s Department.

The grade opened at 4:40 p.m.

Douglas County sheriff’s deputy Greg Hubbard was taking down people’s names who needed to get up Kingsbury. About 50 people milled about the parking lot.

“You can bring back as much as you can carry but remember it’s a patrol car, you can’t put stuff in the trunk,” he told the crowd.

In Hubbard’s right hand was a notebook with a long list of people’s names.

One name was Barbara Barraclough, a visitor from New Jersey in town for a family reunion. She needed her liver medicine.

She was sleeping Wednesday when her landlady called wondering what was happening.

Barraclough knew something was wrong when she looked out the window and didn’t see anybody.

“I grabbed my pocketbook, children’s graduation pictures, a clean pair of underwear, shoes, soda and a chocolate cupcake,” she said. “I don’t know why I grabbed what I grabbed. I’ve never been in a situation like this before. I’m shocked.”

Erin Hardy, a 9-year-old Zephyr Cove Elementary student was walking toward a friend’s house Wednesday when he heard sirens and the word “evacuation.”

His parents were at Raley’s Supermarket and were stopped when they tried to get to their house.

“It’s a pain in the butt because I can’t get in my house,” Erin said while waiting for a shuttle. “I need to get into my house and feed my fish and get all my stuff.”

After coming out of a movie Wednesday, Mick McClatchey’s wife told him about the fire. The Apple Valley couple stayed at a Caesars Tahoe Wednesday night. His friend’s 8-year-old son needed asthma medicine.

“Everything was going great,” McClatchey said about his vacation. “We were supposed to be playing golf today. A lot of things have changed, I suppose.”

Others tried to get to their homes on foot or car after they heard a rumor Kingsbury Grade was open.

Erin McCauley sat in her Dodge truck trying to get to her place at Tahoe Village so she could eat. During the short time she had to pack, she took recording studio equipment, jewelry and some beanie babies for her children.

Joe Milnes took his tent, sleeping bag, two bags of clothes and climbing gear when he and his girlfriend had to evacuate their place on Meadow Lane. He was in a small car, hoping he could go home with his girlfriend who needed her work clothes.

“We don’t have anything with us,” he said. “We have two full bags of 17 sweatshirts.”

McCauley and Milnes were turned away by Nevada Highway Patrol officers with the recommendation to investigate the shuttle service for their needs.

“I can’t let you through,” an officer told a motorist. “My apologies.”

Erin, the 9-year-old who was waiting to feed his fish, was throwing his stuffed animal in the air to express his disdain with the fire.

“This is not cool at all,” Erin said. “I wish I could yell at the person who did this.”

— Contact William Ferchland at (530) 542-8014 or

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