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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor

Camp Fire destroys City of Paradise, community rallies in support


Non profit organizations raise money for relief fund

UPDATE: Dec. 3, 2018

In an update just released by CNN, the number of unaccounted for in Camp Fire drops to 25. The latest count is down from a high of more than 1,000 people.

Original article

Considered the deadliest fire in California’s history, the Camp Fire located in the North Valley (Butte County) has affected nearly 26,000 people and destroyed a town’s entire existence. The City of Paradise (population 27,000) now lies in ruin, as the fires crept over and swallowed most everything in its path, along with nearly 90 lives. 

[/media-credit] Over 18,000 structures were destroyed by the Camp Fire over the course of 17 days.

The current death toll of the fire stands at 88 with almost 200 people still missing–the highest by far in California history from a wildfire. The fire charred more than 153,000 acres of land, resulting in the destruction of 18,000 structures. The fire lasted 17 days, after being contained on Nov. 25.

Because of the mass impact of the fire, most, if not all, citizens of Paradise were forced to evacuate their homes. This resulted in many families losing shelter, food, money, and most all of their possessions needed to support themselves. Currently, many people are now living in tents in Walmart parking lots, staying in motels or moved in with relatives or friends.

Student Neo Campania, ‘19, was affected greatly by the fire. His home completely destroyed, his family was forced to move to his aunt’s place until they could find a new home. Campania describes what he saw as he left his hometown.

“One of the really terrible things was looking at the smoke because the smoke rose all the way up into the sky and then blocked out the sun,” Campania said. “It was almost like a hell on earth, and I’m not even really kidding because it was high enough in the sky that it wasn’t making like a fog effect, but it was just coagulating in the sky so it looked like hell in the sky. It was like black clouds of smoke. It was really gloomy and really hard for a lot of my friends who were in their classrooms trying to fathom what was going on.”

In the following podcast, Kamryn Schultz talks to public information officer Koby Johns about the Camp Fire.

One individual, junior Jade Ryan, suffered greatly from the fire. Although she never witnessed what happened in Paradise, as she was attending school at the time, the fires destroyed both her home and parent’s business. This caused them to move to a hotel in Sacramento with nothing more than three buckets of belongings and their two dogs.

“Everything I thought was necessary at the time is just not even important anymore,” Ryan said. “We took everything for granted before…I don’t know how to feel about it yet. It hasn’t really completely set in yet since I haven’t been back and haven’t seen the fire, but I’ve seen pictures of my home and it’s devastating. Everything’s gone.”

As the North Valley continues to suffer from the drought, the cause of the fire resulted from the overgrowth of trees and underbrush in the North Valley, which require a lot more water than the county has to offer. Other causes include a change in climate, environmental legislation, sparks from utility lines and the amount of electricity used by the large number of Paradise residents.

[/media-credit] First responders and fire fighters help victims find shelter and search rubble for survivors.

Many surrounding cities have offered their services to support the City of Paradise in these troubling times. The City of Chico lies just 11.5 miles west of Paradise and contains about 93,000 people. In light of the disaster, Chico citizens came together to help Paradise residents get back on their feet through donations, free food and clothes, as well as other resources that benefit displaced individuals.

Chico houses the Inspire School of Arts and Sciences, the school of many students that resided in Paradise, which helped organize donations. To support the students, the school collected supplies and filled classrooms with food, clothes and other necessities.

Beth Reid teaches Spanish at Inspire, and through her job has been able to help her students receive things they need, especially shelter, as she is hosting several students who’s homes were destroyed. Reid delivered supplies to evacuee centers in need of cots, bottled water, and toiletries.

“Our community is really rallying to provide those things (supplies) and we have an abundance of those donations which is great, but the long term really remains to be seen,” Reid said. “It’s been a great learning process trying to help in the efforts and learn that it’s really important to hear what specific needs are and meet those needs vs deciding how you want to help without knowing if it’s a need. The needs change every day.”

Another important way people have helped support victims is through the Camp Fire Relief Fund via the North Valley Community Fund.  The fund provides money to the victims of the disaster and the rebuilding of the destroyed homes, as well as assists the community organizations serving evacuees and first responders. There are several relief funds put on by different organizations, but all money goes towards the same cause.

Other local organizations, such as Sequioa and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company have created relief funds for the Camp Fire victims. They are just two of 1200 breweries participating in making special barrels of beer for people to buy and donate the proceeds. 100 percent of proceeds go to the Camp Fire Relief Fund, which will then be distributed to different partner organizations focused on rebuilding communities affected by the fire.

Shirley McCoy, one of the victims of the Camp Fire, appreciates both the moral and financial support from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. She especially admires the work Ken Grossman, the founder of the brewery, is doing to help Paradise citizens get back on their feet.

“Sierra Nevada Brewery, Ken Grossman and his staff, they’re really amazing with what they’re doing in Chico,” McCoy said. “He’s been really showing his concern for the community and making it known that he cares for everybody. They really make you feel welcome and you can come there anytime and they’ll take good care of you. Right now I’m not too sure where we’re going to end up but we’re hoping that with our insurance and some help from friends and family, we’ll figure something out. It’s going to be tricky but I think if we turn to God, he’ll handle it.”

The North Valley Community Foundation (NVCF) is a nonprofit public charity located in the City of Chico. NVCF also provides ways to donate to the Camp Fire fund, and gives victims resources and supplies. The foundation provides community leadership and service to the North Valley, and brings together diverse groups of problem-solvers, mobilizes resources, and equips community leaders.

[/media-credit] More than 153,000 acres of land were burned from the Camp Fire.

The fire was able to be contained Nov. 25, thanks to Cal Fire firemen and first responders. Cal Fire public information officer (PIO) Koby Johns got assigned to the Paradise fire earlier on in the incident to help support the victims. Although stationed in Fresno, Johns went up with his incident management team to give insight on the situation.

Johns provided information to the news, during press conferences and media updates and gave the information to the people who had been affected immediately by the fire. He also helped people directly by driving them to their properties and getting people to evacuation centers.

“We give the information to the people who have been affected immediately by that fire,” Johns said. “Those people are starving for information. They all want to know, ‘How’s my house?’ Some people knew because they saw it burning as they left, but the vast majority of people didn’t know if their house was still standing. And there was no other way to know other than talking to someone like me.”

For those who wish to aid the victims and organizations that are helping Paradise and Chico, the American Red Cross is specifically dedicating efforts and resources to the tragedy, offering ways for others to help. The Red Cross began its relief response more than two weeks ago and remains on the ground, providing shelter, food and comfort to those impacted by the devastating fires.

Others may want to give directly to the Butte County Schools Fire Relief Fund. This fund provides a one-stop location where people can offer support directly to schools in Butte County. Donors can either specify a district or school or make an open donation. Schools will have discretion to spend this money as they see fit once they receive it. Donations can be made online.

As of Nov. 25, the Cal Fire department called off the search for victims of the Camp Fire, which is considered 100 percent contained. People can still help support Paradise in many ways, including donating to the Camp Fire Relief Fund, providing shelter to victims and volunteering at non profit organizations. 

For more articles, read Christmas season activities, Dec. 1-25 and Together we CAN food drive impacts Pinedale community.

Kamryn Schultz can be reached via email and via Twitter.

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    Mackenzie BeckworthDec 2, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Praying for everybody affected. Healing in Jesus’ Name!