California Homeowner Returns to 'Devastation' of Wildfire

Escondido, California, resident Jack Whitling lost the home his family lived in for nearly half a century.
2:10 | 05/16/14

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Transcript for California Homeowner Returns to 'Devastation' of Wildfire
Thank you, ginger. Cecilia is there this morning, there with people who lost their homes or came within seconds of losing them. Many still waiting to find out this morning, Cecilia? Reporter: Robin, they are. Good morning to you. You can see how thick this air is with smoke out here. This home still smoldering. We believe this is the garage. Here's a washing machine here. On this block alone, three homes destroyed. And so many people, still unable to return. Overnight, the unsettling return. It's just devastation. It's irreplaceable. Reporter: This resident getting a first look at the home that's been in his family for nearly half a century. You walk in, that's the living room. And you walk straight past the chimney and go to the family room. Reporter: As the flames inched closer, he tried desperately to save it. It was covered with smoke. You couldn't see. You couldn't breathe. It was too late. It jumped straight in and couldn't do nothing. Reporter: Everybody made it out safe. Now, all that remains are the memories. That's something that can't be replaced. It's horrendous. Reporter: In San marcos, another home, like many, on the brink of disaster. The heat and the smoke was so intense. Hundreds of degrees, just blowing past you. And I was 30 feet from it. I never felt such heat. Reporter: This cell phone video capturing firefighters frantically trying to halt the blaze, just inches from this homeowner's yard. We had three minutes to grab stuff and get out. That was it. Reporter: Fortunately, his home was spared. This is the sheriff's department. This is a mandatory evacuation. Reporter: This woman and her mother now evacuated. Watched as homes across the street from theirs shot up in flames. The fire was really close. I could feel the heat rub against my skin. It was really hot. Reporter: Many residents now left to wait and wonder. We're sitting here, waiting to see what happens, if we're going to be able to go back and see if the houses got destroyed or not. Reporter: These fires have caused at least $20 million in damages. As ginger said earlier, forced more than 125,000 people into evacuations. The hope is that today, with the cooler temperatures, a lot of these folks will be able to return to their homes.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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