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Been busy and then the Camp Fire happened.  My place survived but haven't been able to sleep in my own bed now for a month. Haven't let my zone back into town yet. Bob needs to post again lol, hope they're doing ok.

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It happens, but to be honest, it never really took off, has always been very slow. Not sure if forums are even much of a thing anymore with Facebook making it so easy to start a group, and costs nothing. 

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On 12/8/2018 at 10:31 PM, MB64 said:

Been busy and then the Camp Fire happened.  My place survived but haven't been able to sleep in my own bed now for a month. Haven't let my zone back into town yet. Bob needs to post again lol, hope they're doing ok.

Genuinely sorry to hear that you're still not in, but glad your home survived.

I was on a SAR team doing search and recovery up until they called off the search efforts.  Very strange walking down a cul-de-sac of 10 homes, 9 of them piles of ash, and one of them still standing.  Even asking the Fire guys, they said for many surviving homes there was no particular reason they should have survived. 

Been watching vids of escapes, seeing homes on fire that I later ended up searching and tearing apart with various Fire crews.  When we had our forward CP at Tall Pines, there was an older Toyota Minivan at the corner of Clark and Village with a big orange cone on top.  That was our outbound marker to make the turn onto Village for debrief and decon (another unpleasant process).  For a month we tried to figure out the deal with that van, to no avail.  Watching a video Friday night, a guy who evacuated from the KMart once Clark Road was clear drove right past it on 11/8.  Van was there, w/out the cone. 

So in typical SAR fashion, someone turned an abandoned car into a CP marker for those not familiar with the area.  I don't know how many SAR teams I saw that picked up old burned tools (pry bars, breaker bars, even chunks of steel pipe) to use in the search.  SAR teams aren't equipped for that sort of thing by default, and though our unit trains for USAR, we focus on shoring and building stabilization so we can go in and get survivors out. 

Some nights we slept in tents (15-20 in a tent), other nights in the mobile sleeper bunk trailers.  I hate those trailers, now.  Next time I'll sleep in one of the Sheriff's rigs or in my own tent.  Everything was fine until they activated FEMA.  Staffed by decent people, but organizationally they are a total clusterfuck.  And throwing people into leadership roles that have zero clue how to handle any sort of search led to a lot of duplicated effort.  What a mess for the people that live there.  I'm pretty sure they'll be finding remains for months to come as the ash washes/blows away and the bone bits remain.  Fucking horrible sight.  Bones found right next to front doors.  Folks tried to run out to their cars and took their first, and last, breath of super-heated air, fried their lungs, and died in minutes, writhing in agony.  I'm convinced, given the location and position of a few finds, some folks saw the horror coming, knew they couldn't get out, and decided to punch out with a .38 or .357.  I don't blame them one bit. 

I've washed uniforms and gear countless times now, and I'll never get the stench out.  It's a mix of a wood burning stove, burned tires, sorrow, and despair.  Fuck.

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Wow. So very sad. With the simplistic finger pointing and statement that the fire was California’s fault, I think some need to be in their shoes and yours for an attitude adjustment and a reality check.

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On 12/8/2018 at 11:31 PM, MB64 said:

Been busy and then the Camp Fire happened.  My place survived but haven't been able to sleep in my own bed now for a month. Haven't let my zone back into town yet. Bob needs to post again lol, hope they're doing ok.

How did I miss this, glad to hear your place survived, but I can't imagine how difficult it must be to try and go back to live as normal after dealing with that. 

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On 12/10/2018 at 7:08 AM, desertdog said:

Genuinely sorry to hear that you're still not in, but glad your home survived.

I was on a SAR team doing search and recovery up until they called off the search efforts.  Very strange walking down a cul-de-sac of 10 homes, 9 of them piles of ash, and one of them still standing.  Even asking the Fire guys, they said for many surviving homes there was no particular reason they should have survived. 

Been watching vids of escapes, seeing homes on fire that I later ended up searching and tearing apart with various Fire crews.  When we had our forward CP at Tall Pines, there was an older Toyota Minivan at the corner of Clark and Village with a big orange cone on top.  That was our outbound marker to make the turn onto Village for debrief and decon (another unpleasant process).  For a month we tried to figure out the deal with that van, to no avail.  Watching a video Friday night, a guy who evacuated from the KMart once Clark Road was clear drove right past it on 11/8.  Van was there, w/out the cone. 

So in typical SAR fashion, someone turned an abandoned car into a CP marker for those not familiar with the area.  I don't know how many SAR teams I saw that picked up old burned tools (pry bars, breaker bars, even chunks of steel pipe) to use in the search.  SAR teams aren't equipped for that sort of thing by default, and though our unit trains for USAR, we focus on shoring and building stabilization so we can go in and get survivors out. 

Some nights we slept in tents (15-20 in a tent), other nights in the mobile sleeper bunk trailers.  I hate those trailers, now.  Next time I'll sleep in one of the Sheriff's rigs or in my own tent.  Everything was fine until they activated FEMA.  Staffed by decent people, but organizationally they are a total clusterfuck.  And throwing people into leadership roles that have zero clue how to handle any sort of search led to a lot of duplicated effort.  What a mess for the people that live there.  I'm pretty sure they'll be finding remains for months to come as the ash washes/blows away and the bone bits remain.  Fucking horrible sight.  Bones found right next to front doors.  Folks tried to run out to their cars and took their first, and last, breath of super-heated air, fried their lungs, and died in minutes, writhing in agony.  I'm convinced, given the location and position of a few finds, some folks saw the horror coming, knew they couldn't get out, and decided to punch out with a .38 or .357.  I don't blame them one bit. 

I've washed uniforms and gear countless times now, and I'll never get the stench out.  It's a mix of a wood burning stove, burned tires, sorrow, and despair.  Fuck.

Dang man... Thank you so much for going through what you did. I'm sure it really helped families looking for answers get closure. Evacuations were lifted Dec 15th and I've been living in Paradise since then. One of the lucky surviving houses that has water, power and natural gas. Of course we can't still drink the water but showers plus washing clothes are ok. My neighborhood is pretty much gone except a duplex 1000 feet away. They haven't been living there though. A grocery store in town has opened plus I think a restaurant, some other businesses too.  Pretty strange living here but I'm back to working in my own building and sleeping in my own bed.

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    Wow Ed, deep apreciation for  what you did and went through as well as the victoms over there. CA has always had wild fires but not that Ive ever heard of to this magnitude. 

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Was a pretty bad year for fires, Carr Fire, Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire.  The winds that blew up the fire coming through the Feather River Canyon are crazy at times. Highway 70 through there is one of the nicest drives around however, you gotta dodge boulders or mudslides once in a while. Coming back from an overnight snow camp trip at Butt Valley Reservoir one year, the wind and rain were really bad. Came around one corner actually just a bit before Pulga and there was a Volkswagen Bug sized slide blocking the east bound lane with a tree still standing lol. They closed the road like 10 minutes later. We've had brushes with fire here and there, 10 years ago a couple wiped out some houses bottom of town. Every time one sparked up, always had in the back of my mind, this could be the one. Finally happened and I was actually coming back from an Arizona house hunting trip. 

My scanner app went off as I was driving right as Pulga was being evacuated and I was still south of Kingman AZ. By the time I was done there, the fire had made its way into Paradise and all I could do was listen for the next 11 hours my town being destroyed. Really had no clue how bad it was till that night finally being able to see the news. Spent 2 days at a friend's work building before heading into Chico to stay with the step mom (wish I had stayed at my friend's work place lmao) Figured I'd be in town again within a week, actually took 5 weeks. Glad I didn't have to experience what others had to do trying to evacuate. A good friend of mine watched a guy burn to death while sitting in his car. The old guy said a few minutes before he wasn't going anywhere. My friend has holes in his shirt from the burning embers while trying to escape on foot through places. 

Another good friend went home and saved his dog and cat then headed over to another friend's place to save a couple of dogs. When he was telling me this, he said, "You don't know it but you helped save those dogs." We had gone on a trip to the Rubicon earlier in the year and I gave him a long length of paracord to tie down a tarp on his truck. He used that same paracord to make leashes for the dogs since he wasn't going to spend time looking for their regular ones. Got those animals into his truck and tried to escape but it was gridlock. His truck was 5 cars away from where that burned out school bus was. Pulled up off the road and started walking out on foot with 3 dogs and a cat. Finally someone asked if he needed a ride and he jumped into the back of a pickup with other people getting out. 

I could go on and on of stories of escape I've heard from friends so I'll just stop here lol. 

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4 hours ago, MB64 said:

Was a pretty bad year for fires, Carr Fire, Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire.  The winds that blew up the fire coming through the Feather River Canyon are crazy at times. Highway 70 through there is one of the nicest drives around however, you gotta dodge boulders or mudslides once in a while. Coming back from an overnight snow camp trip at Butt Valley Reservoir one year, the wind and rain were really bad. Came around one corner actually just a bit before Pulga and there was a Volkswagen Bug sized slide blocking the east bound lane with a tree still standing lol. They closed the road like 10 minutes later. We've had brushes with fire here and there, 10 years ago a couple wiped out some houses bottom of town. Every time one sparked up, always had in the back of my mind, this could be the one. Finally happened and I was actually coming back from an Arizona house hunting trip. 

My scanner app went off as I was driving right as Pulga was being evacuated and I was still south of Kingman AZ. By the time I was done there, the fire had made its way into Paradise and all I could do was listen for the next 11 hours my town being destroyed. Really had no clue how bad it was till that night finally being able to see the news. Spent 2 days at a friend's work building before heading into Chico to stay with the step mom (wish I had stayed at my friend's work place lmao) Figured I'd be in town again within a week, actually took 5 weeks. Glad I didn't have to experience what others had to do trying to evacuate. A good friend of mine watched a guy burn to death while sitting in his car. The old guy said a few minutes before he wasn't going anywhere. My friend has holes in his shirt from the burning embers while trying to escape on foot through places. 

Another good friend went home and saved his dog and cat then headed over to another friend's place to save a couple of dogs. When he was telling me this, he said, "You don't know it but you helped save those dogs." We had gone on a trip to the Rubicon earlier in the year and I gave him a long length of paracord to tie down a tarp on his truck. He used that same paracord to make leashes for the dogs since he wasn't going to spend time looking for their regular ones. Got those animals into his truck and tried to escape but it was gridlock. His truck was 5 cars away from where that burned out school bus was. Pulled up off the road and started walking out on foot with 3 dogs and a cat. Finally someone asked if he needed a ride and he jumped into the back of a pickup with other people getting out. 

I could go on and on of stories of escape I've heard from friends so I'll just stop here lol. 

Holy crap, it sounds horrible. Glad you weren’t in the middle of it and able to stay safe. 

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I spent some time in Paradise, was a nice little town. A friend of mine I haven't talked to in years had property out there he inherited from his grandfather. It was their vacation house, but I have no idea if it survived. Glad you're okay Brian. 

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That sounds brutal. When I was a kid we lived in Topanga (close to Malibu) and a fire in the 90's burned pretty much up to a couple 100 feet from our home, friends burned to the ground (fortunately it was a POS anyways), two people up the road where it started were killed. We were able to sneak back in though a back service road at night to get back to the animals and help defend our area. On the off road way back in I could see flames in the distance, then looking at a familiar set of rocks next to the flames and realizing the flames were probably 150-200 feet tall. Unbelievably hellish looking scene that was both frighting but amazing. I remember the next day after it swept though and many things were still burning one of the guys that lived up the side street had just gotten back to find his home in ruins but it was his dogs that didn't make it. The neighbor had tried to save them but it was too late. He actually heard them trapped before before the fire got them completely. These huge fires over the last year make that one seem like nothing. I thought that was a huge devastating fire at the time, I think it was only 18K acres. We had what? Millions of acres and hundreds of people killed  from fires in the last 18 months alone? Can't even imagine coming back to that or having to help search for dozens of charred remains. 

 

By the way the hill on the backside of the house we were did not burn that year. At the time it was so thick I as a little kid couldn't climb though the brush. Back then the last time it had burned I think was 60 or 70 years prior. It's still hasn't. 

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On 1/10/2019 at 10:25 AM, Bob said:

I spent some time in Paradise, was a nice little town. A friend of mine I haven't talked to in years had property out there he inherited from his grandfather. It was their vacation house, but I have no idea if it survived. Glad you're okay Brian. 

Thanks Bob, it'll be back ( I hope )  They're cutting trees left and right in areas so main evac routes don't get blocked again from falling trees plus keeping power lines a bit safer.  They had been clearing around power lines since the Cherokee fire. PG&E base camp on Skyway at the old golf course was maybe a 10th in size, now it's like a small town.  If you know the address of the vacation house, pm me and I can go drive by.

Ok, one more quick story of escape.  A retired cop I know stayed at his place long as he could with his wife. He had a hose going around his house much as he could trying to keep stuff wet. His wife had some sort of medical problem and they finally had to get out. His wife was in the car ahead of him while he saved his old 30's coupe hot rod.  I guess the windows didn't roll up all the way and in areas the embers were coming through the crack in the window then setting his seat on fire. He patted out the flames and drove, couple times drove off the road nearly getting stuck. They made it out safe, his out buildings were lost but the house survived. 

 

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Glad youre ok too. I heard PG&E may be going bankrupt again after this because the cause was traced to a power line test? I’m not sure if either is truth or just flying rumors 

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8 hours ago, El Polvo said:

Glad youre ok too. I heard PG&E may be going bankrupt again after this because the cause was traced to a power line test? I’m not sure if either is truth or just flying rumors 

Since the first week it was said to be a sparking/downed power line. The initial call out for the fire department it mentioned downed lines. PG&E knew about the problems since they were already on scene then shortly after the fire was called in.  There was also talk about some old technology for line tests that does throw sparks which those transmission lines still use.  They may get split up or go bankrupt, not sure yet.  

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I recall Reno news announcing the day previous to the outbreak of the Camp Fire that PG&E planned to shut off power to that region included in the high wind warning. Reason given was so that PG&E wouldn’t be blamed for any fire like they were for earlier fires.

Early that morning before fire news came out the Reno news was still making the announcement that PG&E was still planning to shut off power around 8AM or when wind speeds exceeded a set speed. Since then I heard nothing about PG&E until the news started reporting downed and arcing lines and/or some kind of test sparking the Camp Fire. I found that rather odd.

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The second point of origin still holds my curiosity. 

On 1/8/2019 at 6:59 PM, MB64 said:

Dang man... Thank you so much for going through what you did. I'm sure it really helped families looking for answers get closure. Evacuations were lifted Dec 15th and I've been living in Paradise since then. One of the lucky surviving houses that has water, power and natural gas. Of course we can't still drink the water but showers plus washing clothes are ok. My neighborhood is pretty much gone except a duplex 1000 feet away. They haven't been living there though. A grocery store in town has opened plus I think a restaurant, some other businesses too.  Pretty strange living here but I'm back to working in my own building and sleeping in my own bed.

I am genuinely glad to hear that signs of life are showing up in what's left of Paradise.  It may not be much from the sound of it, but something is better than nothing.  Our unit leader has family still living in Chico and Paradise, and one or two even work for PG&E.  They rolled up to say hello one afternoon while we were taking a break for food/water.  You can tell they're totally conflicted inside, between having a decent paying job and knowing that somewhere in the chain of command, that same company may have cost him his home and nearly 100 lives.  She used to spend summers up there, and even drove by some prior family homes during the search.  I can't imagine how heartbreaking it was for her, but she's tough (at least on the outside). 

What I went through was nothing compared to what scene evacuees had to deal with during the fire.  The videos alone are horrifying, and I never felt the heat or smelled the fresh smoke.  And then there's all the contamination from household chemicals, pesticides, gasoline, tires, oil, synthetics, and whatever else burned or melted.  I knew it was bad when, before having lunch, I was wiping my face down with Clorox disinfectant wipes, alcohol, and anything else that would lift the dirt and oils off my face. 

At a number of the houses, we would often find nice dishes and glassware, something obviously loved and cared about by the owners.  For some reason, we almost universally would pick stuff up, place it aside (usually on a foundation or a place no one could walk, and then keep digging.  I've heard at least one story of survivors going back to the crater that used to be home, and finding those things.  In that case, the plates and dishes belonged to her grandmother and were dear to her.  In the middle of all that chaos and destruction,  I was constantly looking for that 'one thing' to set aside which might help a survivor or relative realize that not *everything* was gone.  No one told us to, no one reminded me to; just some odd, natural instinct. 

I want to see the town get back on its feet, but I suspect the Feds have other plans.

On 1/11/2019 at 2:56 PM, El Polvo said:

Glad youre ok too. I heard PG&E may be going bankrupt again after this because the cause was traced to a power line test? I’m not sure if either is truth or just flying rumors 

They filed noticed of the possibility, which could happen by the end of the month.  Not sure how I feel about that, honestly.  I always see crews working on stuff, in very populated areas, and in remote areas.  I'll be interested, as a shareholder, to see how everything shakes out.

 

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Funny you should say something about plates and such. I've heard of some friends finding mugs or some plates, some have been pulled out ok and others turn to dust when disturbed. One friend had pennies in his coffee mug which all melted together and the mug turned to dust when he picked it up. Saw a set of plates still standing in the rack of a burned out dishwasher at another friend's place. Picked out some little figurine and a half burned digital camera at my aunt's place. 

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My grandfather retired after spending some 30+ years working for pg&e, and I have an uncle who is about to retire too. Not that it matters of course. I haven't been following the story as we have been on the road, but have seen a news story about pg&e filing for bankruptcy. The whole situation is such a mess. I hope the people of Paradise can rebuild their community. It was always such a nice place to visit. 

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9 hours ago, MB64 said:

Well Bob, if you make your way back here any time, let me know. I'll probably be headed to Arizona for good sometime in March though.

Are you originally from Arizona, or are you fleeing California? 

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