Once again fires have ravaged California’s forests and have left a multitude of residents displaced. Acres have been destroyed, there is just a charred footprint where thousands of homes once existed, and residents are shocked and wondering how will they ever pick up the pieces to their now broken lives. And for the fourth time in 12 months, faulty electrical equipment has been linked to the devastation.
While all of the fires in the past year have touched our hearts, “Camp Fire” has hit one of our own team members here at Periscope Group. Laura, the manager of our Call Center, has been busily gathering clothes, toiletries, and other essentials for her parents who lost their home in Paradise, CA. This is their story.
Chris and Jenny bought their retirement dream home in July 2018 off of Pentz Road in Paradise, CA. Just months later, on November 8, Chris walked outside and quickly noticed that the fire was so close that he could see the smoke swirling at the base of the flames. Just ten minutes later, Chris and Jenny tossed two backpacks containing three days’ worth of clothes, the contents of their safe, their two dogs, and a two-drawer metal filing cabinet into their cars. Chris advised Jenny to “make sure your bumper is touching my bumper the whole way down.” Amidst ash, flames, and wind, they desperately hurried to escape the quickly moving firestorm. Jenny would later describe it as moving through a “Biblical hell.”They escaped to Chico to find refuge with a relative only to be relocated later that night since the fire was quickly spreading. They moved on to stay with Chris’ aunt who lives in Live Oak. On the Sunday after their escape, a next door neighbor who was a city official went on an escorted expedition to find out what remained of her home. To her shock and heartbreak, her home had been leveled by the fire along with all of the neighboring homes… including Chris and Jenny’s. Chris and Jenny have decided not to rebuild. Paradise is unique as compared to some of the other California fire locations in that it’s more of a “mom and pop” type town. There are no big businesses that will start over and many people don’t have the resources to pick up where the fire left off. Other than the few items that they piled in the car, Chris and Jenny are now left with nothing. Photographs, childhood memories, and their dreams of retiring in Paradise have been reduced to ash. The emotional devastation has been as painful as the physical one.
While Chris and Jenny’s story is upsetting, they are in no way alone in this struggle to rebuild. Three fires last year - Butte, Tubbs, and Thomas - caused hundreds of thousands of acres to be wiped out, cost hundreds of millions of dollars, destroyed over 8,000 structures (most were private homes), and 25 people died. The current Camp Fire exceeds even these tragic numbers. As of November 13, 6,522 residential structures and 260 commercial buildings have been destroyed, 120,000 acres have been burned, and 42 people have lost their lives making this the largest and deadliest fire in California history. What else do these fires have in common? All of them have been linked to malfunctioning equipment owned by PG&E or Southern California Edison (SCE). In this recent Camp Fire, an Electric Safety Incident Report stated that, “On November 8, 2018, at approximately 0615 hours, PG&E experienced an outage on the Caribou-Palermo 115 kV Transmission line in Butte County. In the afternoon of November 8, PG&E observed by aerial patrol damage to a transmission tower on the Caribou-Palermo 115 kV Transmission line, approximately one mile north-east of the town of Pulga, in the area of the Camp Fire.”
We know that if you’re in this situation, you’re probably feeling heartbroken, devastated, lost, confused, and so much more and we want to help. Our legal team has assisted countless people who have lost everything due to mass fires and they can sort through insurance forms and other crucial paperwork to get the funding owed to you. Call (800) 511-3838 or contact us to speak with our Call Center today (and you can even request to speak to Laura!). We want to help you in any way we can.