The Sacramento Bee had an extensive article on the Camp Fire (see pictures here) today and I must say it was well done. Many stores of common folks helping each other to survive. Over 80 people have been found deceased with over 600 still missing. One of those missing is my mothers ex-boyfriend of many years. He is 93 and there is no word from him. He was living in Magalia.
The thing that jumped out at me about this fire is how fast it traveled. The people interviewed had paid little attention to it as it was many miles away and they were used to these fires being dealt with rapidly. Then they turned around and there it was, burning through their subdivisions and trailer parks in a heartbeat. Many people put themselves in harm's way to help and save others. Along with the cops and firemen, it made me tear up a bit to read about these unsung heroes.
What really stands out about the fire and its progress is the speed. The area had done "fire plans" for evacuations but for fires traveling much slower. The speed caught all the folks off guard. The Paradise area had a four zone plan but it was overwhelmed by the speed and intensity of this fire. Fed by high winds it was an inferno no one could outrun. Individuals that survived have harrowing tales and it is amazing that more people were not burned alive.
What happens in most tragedies like this fire are the acts of common people helping when no others can be there. Humans are so brave in these things. Placing themselves at personal peril to save others is a true act of "Godliness" in my view. I am not sure I could do it but hopefully, I won't ever have to try. The closest I ever came to something like this was helping a unconscious bike rider in the middle of a road years ago. Other than trying not to be run over I was not in peril like these heroes dodging the fires.
It appears that all the planning for these types of situations may not be enough to save people. It is other folks that step up when the plans fail. Though Paradise had three exits from town the evac still bogged down and became a mess. I am not sure that any town or area as populated as Paradise can ever have a fool-proof plan but we sure see it being tried. The fact that people try and keep their property free of fuels that feed a fire is a real plus. But when a 50 MPH winds is cooking through, I don't think that matters much at all. Watching some of the YOUTUBE videos taken as people were escaping the town showed all kinds of building going up and many were not that close together or had brush or trees nearby. It seems that the heat of the fire combusts without fire!
I am sure we all need to reassess our communities now that Paradise has been turned into ash. What have we learned? What do we take from all this to make our communities safer from fire? There are many questions and many answers to come. But in the end, when these terrible things happen the people step up to help each other and that is what makes Americans a great people.