Paradise, California has been turned into a burnt and hollowed-out hell following Camp Fire, one of the largest and deadliest fires in American history. As many as 631 people are missing, many of whom are feared dead. The official death toll has risen to 63 but it’s almost certainly going to rise in the days ahead.
Sadly, some of the residents in Paradise underestimated how quickly the fire could move. One man watched five of his friends perish as they tried to save their belongings in rural California. The man barely escaped, staying just seconds ahead of the fire. The man survived by following a fox to a stream and submerging himself as the fire passed.
Some elderly folks refused to leave. Some simply lacked transportation. Still others stayed behind to tend to animals. There have been some miracle stories, but there have been many tragedies as well.
Paradise was once home to about 26,000 people. The small town has essentially been wiped off the map by the fire. Residents are being told that they may not be able to return to what remains of their homes for up to six months.
So far, the Camp Fire has burned more than 140,000 acres and is only 40 percent contained. At least 11,862 structures have been burned by the fire, many of them private family homes. Entire neighborhoods have been reduced to ash.
Meanwhile, another fire is raging to the south, near Los Angeles. The Woolsey fire has burned nearly 100,000 acres so far and is 62 percent contained. At least 435 structures have been destroyed, and an additional 57,000 in danger.
The massive size and toll of the fires have led to finger-pointing. President Donald Trump has threatened to withhold aid to California, alleging that the state’s poor forest management is the cause. Meanwhile, many are citing climate change as a potential cause of the fire.