Around 8:30 AM on November 8th, 2018, I received a call from my girlfriend who received word that the town of Paradise was raining down ash and the air was thick with black smoke. Now, with the Carr fire happening earlier in the year, it was in the back of my mind that it could potentially be a bigger fire than we are used to in the area. But for people that don’t know the science behind how fires work, I assumed the cold weather and time of year would prevent the fire from spreading too far. Boy, was I wrong…
After receiving the call, I texted my mother and asked if she was aware of the fire and that she should head down to my place in Chico. At first, she wasn’t that worried because our natural nature is to think that there is no way that a fire in October would spread fast and consume a whole town. She wanted to talk to her husband who worked at the local pharmacy. After talking with him, she found out they were closing the store down for the day due to the heavy smoke. (At this point, I don’t think there was one person that could fathom the devastation that was to ensue.)
But as the first hour went by, the reports were coming in that the fire was spreading faster than anyone could imagine. The low winds blasting through and the dried vegetation were the perfect fuel for the wildfire. I turned to Twitter to see if anyone was updating from the Town of Paradise, and the footage coming in caught me off-guard. Cars and trucks were driving through what could only be described as HELL. News reports were coming in that the fire had burned down the Town of Paradise sign that many people have come to know as the beacon for finally arriving home after their journey’s and travels.
I was in constant contact with my mom, pleading for her to leave immediately and to grab whatever she could. She was waiting on her husband to get home but he was stuck in traffic. His work was only 1 mile away so I knew that people were fleeing. My mom recently had surgery on her arm so I knew that it would be difficult for her to grab things. It was deflating because they blocked access to the town and used both sides of the highway for traffic to leave town. When her husband finally got home, they were able to pack their RV and get on the road. Their recently bought jeep had to be left behind. They grabbed the two dogs and started to leave town. This video is what they took next:
This video was taken around 3PM. The sky was dark with smoke and the fire was creeping onto the ridge. Many people abandoned their vehicles which caused a massive traffic jam. Bulldozers and tractors were brought in to push the vehicles to the side of the road. They were able to feel the heat on their faces and knew that this wasn’t a normal fire. They made it to my place in Chico and we cold only watch the news and see what updates the media was sending out. It was not an easy experience to watch so many people suffer but it pales in comparison to the emotional toll losing your home has on the survivors and victims.
Later in the day, they received the news they were dreading to hear. A former friend of the family was a fire battalion chief and knew the person in charge running the ground teams that were n Paradise helping people flee. He gave them their address and asked if he knew about that neighborhood. He replied that the whole neighborhood was gone. There were no houses standing.
The next day they heard from a neighbor that was in the area and he confirmed the news as well. Everything they own is in their RV and were figuring out the next plan and chapter in everyones’ life.
I set up a GoFundMe page in order to help with getting a temporary place, meds for the dogs, and other toiletries and things people don’t realize they need until it’s gone. You can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/donate-to-campfire-victims
Anything you can do is very much appreciated. Thank you.