The wildfire known as "The Camp Fire" that swept through the town of Paradise on November 25, 2018, was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history to date. The fire caused 86 civilian fatalities and covered an area of 153,336 acres destroying over 18,000 structures. The fire moved so fast most of the damage occurred within the first four hours with an estimated $7-10 billion in damages. Seeing all the news coverage I wanted to see the remnants myself. The town of Paradise was closed to the public until December 17, 2018 (that is what I was told by the locals in the nearby Chico).
My fellow film photographer Hugo JinXu and I made the 9-hour trek to the town of Paradise what we saw and experienced was life changing. As some of the first civilians to visit the town here are some images of what we saw. The photographs don't do justice to the scale of destruction. Seeing cars burnt at the spot they were parked and the only recognizable objects still standing were the brick chimneys and BBQ's. The scene was out of an apocalyptic movie. Everything was ashes, kids toys, antique stores, mechanic shops, motorcycles, fast food restaurants. I noticed the juxtaposition between the burnt and the untouched some examples were a burnt pickup truck parked outside of an open automotive store. The garden gnome sweeping in the middle of a burnt neighborhood. Seeing peoples valuables turned to dust was so sad. This experience was also a good one that brought to my attention what is really valuable. It's easy to put so much attention on collecting toys and working through life to acquire more stuff while missing out on the life experiences that might be passing by while being distracted working to buy another garden gnome. The things are not important, the people, the family time, the memories, the experiences are what make life rich. I'm not discrediting the loss of peoples homes, I'm just reminding myself of what is most valuable.