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Thomas Fire evacuees return home: 'We are so lucky, it came so close'

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Photo courtesy: Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County FIre Photo courtesy: Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County FIre

Many people are still under mandatory evacuation orders throughout Santa Barbara county, but other areas have been lifted, letting some families come back home.

"I had to get the essentials, fruit milk and basics for the kids," said Daniel Chamlee, Carpinteria evacuee.  

Daniel Chamlee is getting the house ready for his wife and three kids because after a week of mandatory evacuation orders, they are coming back home.

"Just trying to get the house back to normal," Chamlee said.

While his house was spared, more than 12 homes around him perished in the flames.

"We are so lucky, it came so close," Chamlee said.

But he says it's bittersweet to see his house standing, with others have been reduced to rubble and ash.

"It's my neighbors, it's people we know and it's been rough," Chamlee said.

But he's counting his blessings and hoping to make the holidays feel like the holidays again for his four little boys.

"Now that we are back home we can kind of finish, I've got all the presents out in the car and I can finally put them under the tree and just get back in the season," Chamlee said.

But other families tonight are still anxiously waiting to see what happens next.

"There hasn't been any structures burned in a few days so that gives me hope," Nicholas behrman, Montecito evacuee.

Nick Berhmans house in Montecito has been in the mandatory evacuation zone for a week.

"Obviously, id love to go back and get my stuff and have my family move back in but we are just going to be patient and wait," Behrman said.

He knows his house is still standing though because he can see the firefighters working around it on his home security camera.

"So this the firefighters surrounding our patio table, looks like they have a map for some planning," Behrman said.

Behrman knows challenging days are ahead but he's staying optimistic.

"Good luck firefighters and thanks for working for us," Berhman said.

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