The Camp Fire Ruined My Life

Wildfires are out-of-control fires in a natural area, such as forests, grasslands or prairies. They usually start unintentionally. They spread rapidly and can damage natural resources, destroy homes and threaten the safety of people and firefighters. The present experiences were drawn from people who were affected by the Camp Fire – Emely Perez-Olvera

Note: This story is from a current PVHS student who wishes to share their story but would like to remain anonymous. Normally, The Saga does not run anonymous stories but due to the importance of this story to our school community we want to respect their wishes and privacy. 

The Camp Fire ruined my life. Going through the fire was the hardest thing I have ever done. It felt like the world was coming to an end. Everywhere you looked you would see the sky full of smoke and red. Everything around me felt so hot. The longer we were stuck in traffic the more hope I lost of surviving. I was unable to breathe or even look at my hometown burning up in flames.

 I grew up there, I knew everyone that lived there. The town was my home. I was devastated and in pure shock. No one had expected or predicted this. It hurt even more to see my friends go on the missing peoples list. I had no clue if the people I loved the most were even alive.

 At that time my dad was not living with me, he lived in Chicago. A couple days after November 8th, my family and I went to live with my dad. I had to switch schools and start a whole new life. It felt really odd to live in the city, the weather was different, the people were different, and the schools were different. It did not once feel like home.

 A couple months later we decided to fly out and look at what was left of Paradise and Magalia. Our house was still there but the living conditions were not safe. I remember driving through Paradise and getting flashbacks of the fire. I still get them if we drive up there. I don’t think they will ever go away. It really breaks my heart seeing everything gone.

 Before the fire, I had my life planned out. I knew what I wanted to be, I was at the top of my school. I wanted to go to Paradise High School, and graduate with my friends. Then the fire happened and it ruined everything. I couldn’t focus on school anymore. My goals went away. I had no motivation.

 I recently moved to Chico. I was told I was going to attend Pleasant Valley High School. I thought maybe I could use this opportunity and start over. So far, it’s going well. I have people I can talk to, people who have had similar experiences to me. The school and teachers are really welcoming. I have amazing friends that now will support me at my lowest points. But something feels off. Maybe it’s just me. It feels different. It doesn’t feel like home. In all honesty I don’t think it will ever feel like home anywhere else.