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Old 11-13-2018, 12:31 AM
commandpriority commandpriority is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 332
Default Paradise lost

Hell on earth and Paradise lost:

Day One:
At 6:33am the first report of fire near the Poe power dam was broadcast. At 6:41 I checked Facebook and saw that it was at 10 acres and had the possibility of a “major incident.” I immediately checked my weather app and noticed the winds were headed our way in lower Paradise. In the few minutes it took to verify that information the acreage jumped to over two hundred with spot fires. After waking my wife up to start our day of Dr appointments, normally I work in Chico and my wife Paulena is work at home. Upon waking I informed her about the situation and to start thinking of evacuating (we had prepped a few things such as mementos after a few past incidents, more in that later.) After a quick shower I checked for updates, Jarbo gap was gone and Concow is in its sights. The evacuation wasn’t a possibility anymore. When a fire moves that fast in the canyons with gust of winds that could get a speeding ticket in a school zone.. you don’t stand a chance. Run. After soaking what we could and helping our neighbor get some things together we loaded what we could in the truck and car (it’s never enough and emotionally, I still blame myself for not grabbing more), we listened to the police/fire scanner and heard the path and destruction of the fire. The hospital on fire while being evacuated. Seniors dazed and confused. Dozens of people trapped in different parking lots surrounded by fire, defended by strike teams running low on water. A rescue bus became high centered an had to be abandoned. Cars blocking the road after being abandoned by those overcome by the fire. Massive propane tanks exploding in a thunderous boom. Police kicking indoors telling people to run. At 10:07 the sky is black as midnight, the cats are packed in my wife’s charger and some precious cargo loaded in the RAM diesel, I instruct my terrified wife to stay on my ******. “If I go through something you follow and never stop.” We don’t see flames yet but with a maximum sightline of 100’ that means nothing. We head out and pass our neighbors Johnny and Michelle. Johnny had managed to be one of the few that made it back home. He was hooking up his camper and after asking if he is “good”, I wish him good luck and we head out. As we make our way off the ridge the evacuation of lower Paradise was remarkably courteous. No major accidents. People using their blinker or letting people in. The smoke is over powering my environmental systems in the truck and I hack and cough but then I see those less fortunate with windows down due to heat and no AC or maybe they are broken. I will never know, but I suddenly don’t care about hacking anymore. We make it down the hill via Neal and go north on 99 where we see the remnants of accidents all over. We make our way to my dads place off of highway 70 via round about ways to regroup and decide to get out of the smoke and head to my brothers for the night.

Day Two:
One of my brothers friends was able to get into town because of her job and was able to get to our home. She didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news but I obviously hold no poor feelings towards her. I would rather know one way or another. Our home is gone. I have a photo showing the devastation and that of my neighbors Johnny and Michelle. All of my wife’s books and art work. Gone. Her beautiful wedding dress is ash. Our signed (by guests) wedding frames are gone. 90% of my historical collection. Gone. My 1952 Military jeep. Gone. All my tools. My computer. Our clothes. Our very nerdy collection of Firefly and halo items. Our home. Gone. All gone in the blink of an eye. You want to talk about an emotional break down.. just take a moment to realize that everything you now own fits easily in the bed of a pickup. The really sad part, we are very fortunate. Most people have less now. While walking around the Yuba City Walmart to get toothbrushes and other necessities (still very much in shock mind you,) I get a call from Blaine. Blaine had sold us the RAM 2500 that was responsible for saving a little more than our cats. He called because he remembered that we lived in Paradise and wanted to see how we were doing. Ever see a grown man break down In Walmart? Yea. We headed over to the dealership to thank him in person. We had just learned that by the time we received the evacuation notice via official channels the house was already gone (based on time stamps on the incident map.) The truck he sold us saved part of our life.

It’s 8:42 on Sunday November 11th as I write the events of the first two days. I can say for sure that if this fire had started at night we would be dead. If we had relied on my old GMC pickup I would have most likely would have had to abandon it on the side of the road to watch it burn up. If I had gone to work that Thursday morning instead of having the day off I wouldn’t have been able to make it back up the hill without ramming a roadblock. If I had been at work (with the wife at home,) there is a damn good chance I would have lost her, she doesn’t drive often and doesn’t know the roads on a good day let alone in the chaos of an evacuation. If they give you an evacuation “warning”, just leave. By the time it is mandatory... it’s too late. We are in the age of super-fires in Northern California. You can’t stop them. This fire may end up taking out more communities before it is stopped. It’s still threatening Chico and even the outskirts of the Oroville area. But I can tell you for a fact that many lives were lost in this peaceful community with a high percentage of retired and senior citizens. This isn’t over yet. Sadly I wouldn’t be surprised that when the ash is cleared and the new dawn shines, the casualties will climb across multiple communities. My guess. In the hundreds. The fire was just too damn fast and too damn hot. Houses burned down to concrete. No walls standing. Lots of poor souls never stood a chance.

The courage and determination our first responders show is unparalleled. Knowingly defending people trapped well behind the fire lines with little water and nothing but smoke. Saving who and what they can on 24 hour shifts. Running into burning buildings to clear them.

If you have the opportunity and capability to help those in need, please do. Even though we have suffered, we are helping too. This community is pulling together and I couldn’t be more proud.

We have lost damn near all but We have survived the complete and utter chaos of the Oroville Dam “collapse” evacuation, high voltage lines down and still live surrounding our house in Paradise last October with a different fire almost taking us out at the same time, a random tornado near our apartment in Oroville and many more curve balls that have been thrown at us over the last few years. And we will survive the the fire that wiped ours and our friends homes from this earth.

Truly Hell on earth and Paradise lost.

John R Downs. Formerly of Paradise California
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  #2  
Old 11-13-2018, 12:49 AM
letterman letterman is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: OHIO
Posts: 106
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Sorry for your loss I cannot imagine what you have gone through and will be going through! Our Prayers for your family and friends.
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  #3  
Old 11-13-2018, 07:35 AM
Ohio Don Ohio Don is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: S Florida and SE Ohio
Posts: 4,145
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Sad to hear that John. Fires don't give you much warning as shown by how high the death toll has risen there. Now rated as the deadliest fire in CA history.
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Old 11-13-2018, 07:59 AM
Mals9 Mals9 is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: St. Louis MO
Posts: 577
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I cannot fathom what you went through and are continuing to face. Best of luck to you and your wife.

Mals
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  #5  
Old 11-13-2018, 08:03 AM
firekeep firekeep is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Az
Posts: 244
Default Really!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerryjeff View Post
Long winded.
Wow, how can you say that! Being a first responder 100 miles to your south, I feel embarrassed to say the least!
I've seen the devastation of wildfires 1st hand and minus a war zone, there is nothing comparable. Your comment is completely out of line....

OP, I am sorry for what has happened! If you happen to find yourself in Az (Tucson) . My doors are open to you and your family without hesitation. Stay safe and Godspeed. Rich
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  #6  
Old 11-13-2018, 08:17 AM
vagrant vagrant is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 365
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This shows that the possibility is always right there next to us. I'm sorry, brother.
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  #7  
Old 11-13-2018, 08:52 AM
Roadkingtrax Roadkingtrax is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: AZ
Posts: 8,490
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John, let us know what we can do to help. PM an address if needed.
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  #8  
Old 11-13-2018, 09:02 AM
carbineone carbineone is online now
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Columbus NE
Posts: 1,787
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My Brothers Wife in the last Carr fire had her Dad and Moms place leveled. Their two Daughters Families lost everything. And several Cousins lost all their homes.

This latest stuff is very close to their house, he called and told me that Sunday. Have no got a call since then. So no news is maybe good news.

Sorry to hear of your devastation.. Atleast you are safe.

All of Their Family may have lost all their possessions. But they can be replaced. Your life cannot.
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  #9  
Old 11-13-2018, 09:13 AM
commandpriority commandpriority is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 332
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carbineone View Post
My Brothers Wife in the last Carr fire had her Dad and Moms place leveled. Their two Daughters Families lost everything. And several Cousins lost all their homes.

This latest stuff is very close to their house, he called and told me that Sunday. Have no got a call since then. So no news is maybe good news.

Sorry to hear of your devastation.. Atleast you are safe.

All of Their Family may have lost all their possessions. But they can be replaced. Your life cannot.
Paradise Ca is gone. There are only a few places left standing and they are random at best. Dozens dead. Hundreds missing. Thousands of homes gone. I hate to say it but expect their place to be gone if it’s in city limits.
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Old 11-13-2018, 10:03 AM
weimar_police weimar_police is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Near Spokane, WA
Posts: 1,813
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John, I am sorry - I am unsure why they pulled my remarks that jerryjeff remarks were uncalled for.

I have a friend in the Malibu area (his wife's brother) and they lost everything too).

Ed
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