Firefighters continued to make progress overnight against the deadly Camp fire, which has ravaged Northern California for more than a week, boosting containment to 66%, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Monday.
The fire grew slightly overnight and has chewed through 151,000 acres in Butte County. The blaze, which is the state’s deadliest wildfire, has claimed at least 77 lives and destroyed 15,850 structures. More than 11,000 of those buildings were homes.
Fire officials expect the blaze to be fully contained on Nov. 30.
When Jeff and Nan Thompson and their son Alex, a ruddy-haired 5-year-old with boundless energy, returned to their hilltop home in Malibu on Sunday, they were astonished by what had burned and what had not.
Burned: bushes scorched black along their driveway, a metal grate only steps from their living room windows, and a nearby house that used to loom over them from the hills.
Not burned: their butterscotch-colored house, which seemed practically untouched save for a scattering of Spanish tiles that had tumbled from the roof.
Paradise Mayor Jody Jones, said Sunday authorities have estimated that it will take at least two years for her city to begin to bounce back from the devastating Camp fire — one year to clear debris from the thousands of structures that burned and another to rebuild.
She and her husband are now living in their motor home. So they can have a base of operations as the city comes back, they made an offer on a home in Chico on Tuesday, she said, and it is now in escrow.
“We’ve hugged and tried to support each other,” Jones said as she left a vigil for the victims of the blaze. “We’re all in this together.”
For nearly a week, Laura Cartwright and her brother looked for their 71-year-old reclusive uncle from Helltown, a small community just north of Paradise.
They tried calling him by phone when the Camp fire broke out, but they couldn’t get through. Even on normal days, cell service there is spotty. They checked the American Red Cross shelter’s online list to see whether their uncle had marked himself safe. He hadn’t.
By Day 3, they were worried. By Day 5, they couldn’t sit at home anymore and drove up from Concord to the disaster zone. They ended up roaming a tent city in a Walmart parking lot, asking if anyone had seen their uncle.
Jeff Evans is one of a handful of people left in Concow, a mountain hamlet tucked deep in the woods that has been under mandatory evacuation orders since the Camp fire tore through here on Nov. 8. If he leaves, he can’t get back in.
His neighbors stuck on the outside have been emailing him requests. Because the gas in the generator powering his electricity — and his internet — is limited, he hops online for a few minutes each day, answers their questions and gets going.
“Every single morning until the afternoon, I’m huffing it,” Evans said. “I’m going and going and going. There’s pigs to feed and goats and ducks and chickens.”