It was a lazy morning, until I got a text from Jenna checking to see if I was OK and ventured back outside to check on this fire thing. The smoke was thick and ash was falling everywhere. An hour before nothing was going on. Now Clark Road was choked with bumper to bumper traffic heading south and fire equipment heading north.
The “Camp Fire” started at sunrise (about 6:30) on Thursday, November 8, near Pulga, California. The National Weather Service had a Red Flag Warning up for the past couple of days and firefighters responded aggressively attacking the then 10 acre blaze. By 7:30am the fire had grown to 3,000+ acres and Paradise, a town of 26,000, was under mandatory evacuation. By 8:30 Paradise was on fire.
Time to Go
At the RV park we lost power and water just after 9am. It was time to go. I quickly got the RV into travel mode and joined the walking speed traffic heading south. That night I’d learn at least five people burned to death in their cars fleeing Paradise.
I stopped at an evacuation center outside Oroville about 10 miles south with about 30 RVs and 200+ cars. I brought my house while many others brought just a few photos, their pets and the clothes they had on. I gave away my blankets, a knit cap and gloves. Oroville residents cruised the park passing out water, food and blankets. Overnight the low was 33 and we had one fatality. They say it was a heart attack, but I don’t really know.
Déjà vu Time to Go Two
By 5am the fire had grown to 70,000+ acres driven by high winds overnight. The southern perimeter still seemed to be 9 miles north. The air stank of smoke, but the haze wasn’t horrible. Nevertheless, just before noon, CHP and Butte County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived in force and said we had to go NOW, passing out maps to the fairgrounds in Yuba City, 45 miles south of the fire.
At arrival, a friend from the RV park needed EMT assistance.
The fire, just one of three major fires burning in California, is now among the worst in the state’s history. The places I stayed, shopped and hiked in Paradise are lost along with thousands of homes, businesses and an unknown number of lives.
More to follow.