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How victims of the Sand Fire are sifting through the rubble

Saul Douglas Roe a logistics vounteer with the American Red Cross constructs a sifter at the  temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita on July 29th 2016.
Saul Douglas Roe a logistics vounteer with the American Red Cross constructs a sifter at the temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita on July 29th 2016.
Dan Tuffs for KPCC
Saul Douglas Roe a logistics vounteer with the American Red Cross constructs a sifter at the  temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita on July 29th 2016.
Roy Hanson a logistics vounteer with the American Red Cross constructs a sifter at the temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita on July 29th 2016.
Dan Tuffs for KPCC
Saul Douglas Roe a logistics vounteer with the American Red Cross constructs a sifter at the  temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita on July 29th 2016.
Lyn Fairly resident of Sand Canyon at the Red Cross temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita. Lyn's house narrowly escaped the fire and was saved by firefighters. July 29th 2016.
Dan Tuffs for KPCC
Saul Douglas Roe a logistics vounteer with the American Red Cross constructs a sifter at the  temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita on July 29th 2016.
Lyn Fairly resident of Sand Canyon being given a care package by Cindy Huge, Supervisor and Caseworker with the American Red Cross Kern Chapter. Lyn's house narrowly escaped the fire and was saved by firefighters. Red Cross temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita.
Dan Tuffs for KPCC
Saul Douglas Roe a logistics vounteer with the American Red Cross constructs a sifter at the  temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita on July 29th 2016.
Saul Douglas Roe a logistics vounteer with the American Red Cross loads a sifter onto a truck at the temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita on July 29th 2016.
Dan Tuffs for KPCC


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A week after the Sand Fire started, volunteers began helping victims in Santa Clarita sort through the charred remains of their homes.

On Friday afternoon, Red Cross volunteers drove into Placerita Canyon where a row of homes had burned to the ground. Saul Roe, a Red Cross volunteer, spent the day building sifters at the Hart High School disaster relief center in Newhall.

"With sifters, you're looking for things that might have survived," Roe said.

A sifter at the Red Cross temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita on July 29th 2016.
A sifter at the Red Cross temporary shelter set up in the Hart High School in Santa Clarita on July 29th 2016.
Dan Tuffs for KPCC

The sifters are made of wood, wire mesh, nails and duct tape. It takes about ten minutes to assemble one with a hammer, forming a 4x4 foot square. Then piles of ash can be shoveled inside, to locate materials or belongings that may have survived the fire.

"It's like sifting at a mine," Roe said.

The sifters are available at Hart High School. Volunteers will also be driving around to affected areas throughout the weekend to drop them off.

Pat McCrary was one of the first Sand Fire victims to receive a sifter. Volunteers from the Red Cross delivered one to his home in Placerita Canyon late Friday afternoon. McCrary said he had spent the day surveying the damage to his home, observing the piles of ash and rubble from his driveway. 

"This can't be good for your lungs," he said, sitting on a ledge near his home.

Pat McCrary's house in  Placerita Canyon on July 29th 2016.
Pat McCrary's house in Placerita Canyon on July 29th 2016.
Dan Tuffs for KPCC

Last weekend, when he and his wife saw the fire coming over the hill, they ran, and left most of their belongings behind. McCrary has been living at a nearby Embassy Suites since then. He said neighbors and volunteers would soon be helping him start the long task of going through the remains of his home.

He put his new sifter next to a pile of shovels on his driveway, in preparation for the days ahead. It's one more thing to help, he said. He took a look at what remained of his home.

"I'll probably be here all day [Saturday]," McCrary said. "And Sunday too."