Losing everything in a fire feels exactly how you imagine it would.

When I was 12 there was a very big fire in my town Paradise, California in 2018 and it was called the Campfire. 153,336 acres were burned between November 8 and November 23, 52,000 people were evacuated and 85 people died including firefighters. It was a horrible day for everyone, pets, family, and friends were lost. Making it the deadliest and largest fire in California history at the time.

It was a normal morning until we found out that the fire was about 15 miles from our school and traveling at high speeds. We all got packed into the gym as our parents rushed to get us, they couldn’t call us as phone lines were down. It was 8 in the morning but the sky was pitch black and red amber was falling from the sky. Lucky for me I didn’t have to drive across town to get home to quickly pack. We lived roughly 100 feet from the school so we ran up and packed our important things quickly. Our neighbors lost their cats and their car wouldn’t start so we stayed to help. Our other neighbors were waiting for the brothers at the church to come get them but we had to rush them into their car and send them on their way.

We got out pretty quickly, after about 45 minutes of driving through flames and watching everything we’ve known our whole lives burn to ash in front of our eyes. We got the call that my step-dad was stuck in fire traffic and that he might not get out. After 2 grueling hours he finally called back and said he was able to get out, a relief, a miracle even. The only loss I suffered in losing a loved one was my fish, I was lucky, although id give a lot to have saved him. He was my only pet my whole life but sacrifices were made and i still consider myself lucky.

Almost three years later and I’m still unstable, I lost everything, my friends, my family, my town, everything I knew I lost in a matter of hours, It was so painful but I’m getting back on my feet and moving up in the world. I kept my closest friends although were starting to drift as well… Its been rough but I’m slowly getting through it… Some day it wont even hurt anymore, hopefully.

Thank you firefighters for risking your lives for our community.

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