OJAI (CBSLA)  —  Neighbors in Ojai could only watch helplessly as flames from the huge Thomas fire rolled across the landscape Thursday.

CBS2’s Jeff Nguyen spoke to residents who were ready to leave and those that weren’t sure what to do next.

He asked one man how close the fire was to his home.

“You can find it by the big fire burning in my backyard,” the man laughed. “you know, laughing or crying right?”

That nervous laughter is one home owner’s way of dealing with the roaring flames in Matilija Canyon which is in the Northeastern part of Ojai.

The family at this property didn’t want to leave as the flames moved closer but most of the neighbors were not willing to take any chances.

“I have a fire hose in the backyard,” said the man, “and that versus a 70-foot high wall of flame is not going to do a whole heck of a lot.”

As Nguyen drove on Highway 33, flames could be spotted dotted the landscape on both sides.

“You had to steer around rocks that fell of a hillside that burned right before your eyes,” he reported.

As the California Highway Patrol closed the road to prevent people from being sandwiched between a series of fires in the canyon.

James Ary has family that lives there – where cell reception is zero.

“I got a bunch family that’s freaking out because my uncle lives in Matilija Canyon and he ain’t gonna leave.” Ary said.

But Rachel Jacobs and her family bailed from their ranch last night – when a small portion of their fruit trees burned.

“It’s pretty overwhelming devastation and we’re feeling very grateful and blessed that our home is there,” Jacobs said.

But for some homeowners all they can do was wait and see.

“That’s kinda where I go ‘OK, God. In your hands and we’ll take whatever help we can get here, thank you,'” the homeowner with fire in his backyard said.

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