We Did Not Know How Fast the Fire Was Coming

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



In Paradise, there was a lot of forest land, so it was pretty common to see smoke in the air from a fire, so when we saw this big set of smoke in the air, we thought nothing of it, and went to school like any other day. It’s when I got to school, (I was in 6th grade at the time) was when I started to get a bit worried. I could tell that the fire was coming our way, but I didn’t know how fast. 

Throughout the day I was worried about whether I would be able to go home or not, and sadly after school, the gates to Paradise were closed so we couldn’t get in. Now, with my Grandpa having passed away recently, nobody was at my house. My mother and grandmother were at work and my brother and I were at school (all in Chico), so when we realized we couldn’t go home to Paradise, we were technically homeless. 

My mother immediately texted my aunt asking if we could be there, for what we thought was going to be a week or so. It wasn’t. The fire got so bad, we were crashing at my aunt’s house for a month straight. My mother and grandmother slept in my little cousins room, the cousins slept in their playroom, and my brother and I slept on the couches. We almost constantly had the news on during this time for updates, but they weren’t very helpful. 

Now, in comparison to other families in this whole situation, we had it good. My uncle works for the news, so he was able to go down there before everyone else and see if our house was gone. So what he did was go on down there and check. He called us while we were all at Target looking at board games, in which he told us our house was gone. In a panic, we immediately started to buy the essentials like spoons, forks, pillows, blankets, etc. Because we were able to find out so early, we were able to buy some of the essentials before everyone else did, and we got them at discount prices as well. 

Then it was up to finding a place to call “home” so we didn’t have to stay with my aunt anymore. Thankfully, my uncle, who I haven’t spoken to in over 10 years, had a buddy who had a rental house, and was willing to rent it to us. We obviously accepted, and after two weeks we were able to move in. Long story short, it wasn’t great as it was only three rooms. My grandmother had to sleep in a closet-like room, my mother had to sleep in a room with a broken door, and my brother and I had to sleep in a room that was just okay but I am thankful to say we had the best room.

We lived in that house for about three months before we started to look for a home to buy because we didn’t want to stay in the outskirts of Chico anymore. We ended up finding a house that we still live in today, but had to pay a lot more than the original price because of lots of others also trying to score this amazing house. This new house is close to a lot of things, and is even walking distance to PVHS.

That’s about it, our story definitely isn’t as action packed as say so my uncle Heath who lived in Paradise as well, because he was there when the flames were there, trying to get his two kids out of there safely (which he did.)

Living in Chico is different from living in Paradise. In my opinion, the best part is that every time I want to ac

tually go home, I don’t have to do a half an hour drive. Now, I have always gone to school here in Chico, because my parents worked here and it was just simply easier, but now that I actually live in Chico, I have the luxury to be able to walk instead of drive.