COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. -- It was a constant flow of local people and Red Cross volunteers coming in and out of Max Hesse Park in Collier County Wednesday. Volunteers worked to get bottled water and food to those evacuated from their homes.
"About 2pm, the officers came in and said we needed to leave," said Hollis Dukes, who was evacuated from her home because of the Golden Gate Estates Fire.
20 years, left behind, in an instant.
"I came out with what I have on. The grandkids grabbed some of their clothes but I just came out with what I have on," said Dukes
A fire that threatened homes and left roads closed had Dukes taking her scared dog, Sheba, and following her grandkids to safety.
"By the time we'd come out, we couldn't hardly see, the smoke was so bad. It was just, probably, 100 feet from my house," said Dukes.
Disaster services with the Red Cross staged at Max Hasse Park and handed out bottled water and snacks to keep people hydrated and comforted. For Dukes, she knows the hazards of living in Golden Gate Estates.
"When you live out here but it doesn't make it any easier. We've been through fires before but this one was a little worse, a little hotter, a little faster. They just couldn't seem to slow it down," said Dukes.
Returning home became a waiting game for Dukes. Hoping and praying there was something to return home to.
"Scared what you'll find when you go back. Hope it will be there. Let the good Lord take care of it," said Dukes.
WINK spoke with Dukes late Tuesday evening and she said she was able to return to her home at about 8 p.m. Good news is her home was spared from the flames but she did lose a storage trailer and part of the grass in her yard.