Paradise has been home to parts of my family for as long as I can remember. I only lived there for 3+ years when the Camp fire struck.
I grew up coming to Paradise to visit Grandparents, Aunt’s/Uncles and cousins. Coming to visit was one of my favorite things to do but I had considered myself a city girl and resisted moving to Paradise for a long time.
I thought small town life wasn’t for me. I thought it was too slow, too boring, nothing to do or see but I was so wrong.
When I finally did move to Paradise it took me a bit to relax.
Everything was so…different. As in…I can hear wildlife at night instead instead of loud music or fireworks, people don’t just wave to you…they actually want to know how you are doing and have a conversation, there is no rushing…they take their time to do things like browse and make eye contact which leads to conversation! This wasn’t just a town or even just a small town…this was a community. They came together to celebrate, mourn, play and work. They welcome you in with no questions asked.
That Nov. 8 morning was a shock to all of us. Fire evacuations have happened in the past but somehow we all new this was different. What would normally have been a bright sunny morning was black with smoke and debris.
Turning on the news and seeing a story of a fire 9 miles away and suddenly the phone rings with a reverse 911 telling us to leave. Grab the animals and jump in the car with the clothes on our backs.
The only light we had were the headlights of other vehicles and the coming inferno of flames. Sitting in a traffic jam of your neighbors as we wait in vehicle traffic trying to escape and leave our town. It took 3 hrs, sitting in dark nightmare to go 3 miles to 1 of 2 escape routes. Driving past the airport with fire coming up on the side of Clark rd. Vehicle getting hot, breathing warm thick air.
Suddenly blinded by daylight as we leave the black cloud of doom behind us.
We lost everything that day. All my relatives lost everything.
Our once beautifully wooded community was reduced to ashes in 1 day.