Photo Essay

Fire erupts in Paradise

Detour from Paradise

I live in the little town of Paradise CA, and I took most of these pictures while commuting on one of the last buses into the town before authorities ordered it closed and its residents evacuated

The following comes from my weblog, An Internet Globetrotter, at norcalblogs.com/globetrotter, where I filed my first reports and photos as firefighters from all over California and Nevada helped fight the flames for over four days

"Several times this last weekend, after my adrenalin levels returned to normal levels as a result of the Butte County Firestorm/Humboldt Fire, I kept answering the question of "How are you?" with "Lucky". Everybody understood for the moment. I am also lucky because as Adjutant for American Legion Post 259 of Paradise CA, I have a commander who warned his membership about what happened.

"Thor Sparre is also the security advisor for the post. He expressed concern about the fire danger in Butte County a couple months ago, but some of the events that occurred, such as the blockage of access to Paradise, the running out of gasoline supplies, and the shortage of some foodstuffs in the grocery stores, were items he has tried to hammer home to the membership for a few years.

"We in Central Paradise were on our own during the fire's height because of the blockage of all the usual access points into our town. Sparre had predicted that we would face such. The picture with this essay, $4.79 a gallon gasoline, was the former Shell station at Wagstaff and Skyway, apparently one of the gas stations that had run out of gas during the major evacuation. It dropped its price 18 cents by mid-afternoon Saturday.

"As evacuee and Butte County Supervisor Kim Yamaguchi saw first hand, the Ridge has a problem concerning disasters. Because we still do not have a passable escape route above the Ridge, the roads out of this area were jammed. I was on one of the last B-Line buses coming into Paradise Thursday, and as we inched along the detour route, the radio crackled with evacuation news for the entire community. There was much confusion as our bus, a normal 40 minute ride up Skyway, took the back way in just before the access points were closed.

"Again I was lucky, being able to get home on a ride that took over two hours. The one time our humble community made the national news was for one of the most disturbing events we've seen in a long time, which will reshape the Ridge for a long time to come.

"I thank the almost 4,000 firefighters who came in from such as Orange County, Newcastle, Santee, and Copperopolis to make this a bearable experience for us. Yes I am lucky as is this town that became the subject on statewide and national concern.

Posted by Gary D. Brune at 12:03 PM"

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