The Camp Fire, the most devastating California wildfire to date, which caused 5 injuries, 86 fatalities, the loss of 18,804 structures and 153,300 acres burned. These losses, along with contamination of the water supply, damage to the watershed, and huge hazmat cleanup costs, devastated the local communities of Paradise and Yankee Concow. The story about the Camp Fire does not end with the fire and losses but is now a story of residents rebuilding lives and neighborhoods. Courageous residents have been working hard to clean up in advance of the one-year anniversary of the fire on November 8th. They have even set up GoFundMe accounts to help those who are still rebuilding homes and lives.
As the anniversary approaches, a number of media outlets have created films to tell the stories of survivors, first responders, community leaders and more. Each film gives a slightly different viewpoint, but all contain graphic footage and heart wrenching stories. The PBS Frontline film, Fire in Paradise, looks at the dramatic evacuations and explores the causes. Another film produced by Netflix, airing November 1, recounts harrowing stories from people about how they survived. Yet another film, The Camp Fire Documentary by Golden Eagle Films, tries to take a sensitive look at first person accounts from residents and first responders about what it was like.
I think the most compelling takeaway to me is the courage of the people who lived through the incident, and their care and support for each other. This is something I noticed when I visited the area years ago. The fact that so many survived the fast-moving fire is a testament to the preparedness of the residents and the first responders. I have a hard time reliving the tragedy in film, but there are stories to be told that we can learn from: stories of courage, caring, survival and rebuilding. I think if we can take their stories to heart and look at where we all are on our individual journeys of wildfire preparedness, a part of what they have to share with us is that we each can make a difference in helping others be safer -- that we all have a role to play in creating safer communities. What have their stories told you, on the anniversary of this fire?
Picture credit: Matt Dutcher