The Camp Fire in Butte County has already claimed the lives of 42 people and burned more than half the dwellings of Paradise. The fire, which began five days ago, is still burning and is now deemed the worst wildfire disaster in California history.
Many residents of Paradise moved to the area four decades ago, drawn to the beauty and rustic cabins of the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Up until this year, Paradise sat in a "tinderbox", lucky that it hadn't fallen victim to a catastrophic fire before.
Fire history maps dating back to 1911 show 46% of the hills of Butte County east of Highway 99 charred by at least one fire. Other massive fires in the area include ones in 1927, 1943, 1951, 1964, 1990, 1999 and 2000.
The town of Paradise recognized their spot in a wildfire disaster zone and developed evacuation protocols and some 70 people recently participated in a drill, rehearsing an evacuation down the town’s main thoroughfare.
All of this work “saved literally thousands of lives,” Phil John, chairman of the Paradise Ridge Fire Safe Council said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
“There’s just no way to prepare for what happened,” John said. “Unless you had some kind foresight to say there’s going to be a big fire and it’s going to jump the creek and it’s going to burn down the whole town.”
Read the full story at the LA Times.
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