Reflections: The Camp Fire

I clearly remember that day. I was headed to Marysville about a 30 minute drive from where I lived. I was rehearsing my lesson plans in the car as I listened to the radio. I remember questioning what I heard: a plane hit one of the Twin Towers? Immediately I called my husband Billy to tell him…
Eighteen years later, a similar situation…Last Thursday, I was headed to school, a different school. The sky looked ominous, dark clouds and a red sun. I called Billy, who was helping our son Liam get ready for school. He agreed that it appeared to be another fire. However, this wasn’t just “another fire.”
This was the beginning of the Camp Fire, which has leveled the town of Paradise and significantly damaged the towns of Magalia and Concow. At the point of writing this blog post, it is at 50 % containment; approximately 146,000 acres damaged, 11,862 structures burned, 52,000 have been evacuated from their homes, 71 confirmed deaths; and 1,000 unaccounted individuals. The Camp Fire is being called the most destructive wildfire within this century.
Our town of Chico is within a 15-20 minute drive of Paradise, so many evacuees have arrived here. Over one thousand are residing in shelters. Hundreds are parked in parking lots through town- Walmart, the old Toys R Us, and our mall. Some are residing with friends and family. We personally know 11 families who have lost homes. With over 7,000 households displaced, Chico’s housing market falls significantly short. Some are estimating that only 800-1,000 households can be accommodated. It is the problem on everyone’s mind, and it will likely take years to fully address it…
What does it look like when a national disaster happens in your area? I offer my perspective to my friends who live outside of the area:
1. From the moment you wake up, you turn on the morning news for the latest Camp Fire updates.
2. You check Facebook for updates on your friends and family. It’s peppered with posts such as these:
*Expressions of thanks that homes were spared
*Pictures of land where homes once stood
*Gofundme accounts started by loved ones
*Pictures of the missing
*Posts of the helpers-encouraging others to do the same
3. You feel compelled to help: collecting items to donate, hosting families, volunteering at shelters, cooking meals, and giving funds to relief efforts.
4. You feel guilty about not being able to do more. The loss is overwhelming.
5. Your festivity is restrained this holiday season. I have a home to decorate, so many don’t…
6. You are encouraged by the helpers (as Mr. Rogers used to call them). You thank God for their ability to put love into action and for their knack to think outside of the box for creative solutions.
7. You resist the temptation to be stuck. The scope of the situation is overwhelming, but you are motivated to do SOMETHING. ANYTHING.
8. You don’t sweat the small stuff. You catch yourself complaining about petty things, and then you feel ridiculous for doing it.
9. You pray for evacuees, first responders, angels of goodwill, and officials as they search for solutions.
10. You resist the blame game, realizing now is NOT the time to point fingers. There’s just too much to do….
With God’s help, we will rise from the ashes. Paradise may be lost, however HOPE is not lost… Butte Strong!
***By the way, the image below was created by the design team at Fifth Sun. When I attached the image, I had not inquired first whether I could use it. I contacted Randy Cook, owner of the company, and he has graciously agreed to my using it here. Please consider purchasing a Butte Country Strong t-shirt! All proceeds got to the Camp Fire victims, and to date they have raised over $69,000!!! Here is the link to order:
To gain a clearer picture of the devastation, please click the links below:
Whether you live in the area or not, there are ways to help out! Please clink the link below! Thank you for your contribution!
A special thank you to all the first responders! We can never thank you enough!

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