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Fire Destruction and Gratitude

Updated: Aug 21, 2022

I posted this on both my personal and business Facebook pages late Sunday evening, 11/11/18 and wanted to share with those who haven’t read it yet.

I am sitting here on my comfortable couch in my charmingly decorated condo, a candle is glowing, peaceful music is playing, my home is warmly heated, a cup of cinnamon rose tea is steaming in my favorite mug and my precious, beautiful and loving cat, Ollie Bear, is sleeping beside me.

I have a home to come home to. It’s small and cozy, but it’s still standing strong. I have a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in and plenty of food in my refrigerator.

Since last Thursday, the last few days here in the greater Sacramento region had been incredibly and unbearably at times smoky due to the tragic and merciless “Camp” fire in the town of Paradise 82 miles away. People had been wearing masks down here. If my sinuses, lungs and head ache, I couldn’t imagine how toxic and suffocating the air pollution must be up in that region. Today is one day better. But it’s not over.

I can’t begin to fathom the amount of tragic destruction and devastation this wildfire fire has destroyed. Over 6700 homes and well over 117,000 acres have been demolished by these voracious flames. Many of those homes belonged to the firefighters and other responders fighting this awful blaze. Yet they persevere and continue to fight it.

I know it’s their job, but HUGE accolades and gratitude for the firefighters, police officers, responders, doctors, nurses, hospitals, volunteers, public service and rescue workers, the city of Chico just 10 miles away, Chico State University (my alma mater where I studied for my undergraduate degree) and many other amazing selfless human beings for helping with this terrible fire and the aftermath ruins.

People, pets and livestock have died because of this fire. And sadly, that number keeps climbing. Over 44 have died and over 200 are unaccounted for. This is the deadliest fire the United States has ever witnessed.

For those people that have survived and were able to evacuate and escape for dear life, many of their homes are gone forever. Gone in a matter of minutes.

Thousands can’t just drive back home and climb into their warm beds tonight or many people can’t pick up the phone and call their loved one that just died in the fire because they were trapped and couldn’t get out of their home or their vehicle.

The smoke in the air is the remnants from people’s homes, lives, dreams, emotions and history. I’ve been having a really difficult time comprehending and accepting all of this. This breaks my heart immensely to know so many people are suffering from a tremendous amount of loss, shock and grief. I cried tonight over all of this immense, painful loss.

Catastrophic tragedies happen all of the time. This one is just so close. Something like this can happen anywhere and to anyone.

Today, I drove up to the Apple Hill region of Camino, California, a favorite Fall tradition, to bask in the scenic beauty of El Dorado County and to savor local tasty treats and beverages. It was also a relieving opportunity to get away from the smoky air in the Sacramento region. Fortunately, the air quality was slightly better in Apple Hill but still a bit smoggy as you can see from the Boeger Winery sunset sky.

I met two other people up there. One is a friend named Lynn. The other person is a woman whom I had just met today. Her name is Lise Nickel and she unfortunately just lost her home in Paradise on Thursday. She described the distressing situation of her own immediate evacuation along with her fellow residents in their attempts to frantically escape. Sadly, she also just lost her 94 year old father that recently passed away 2 weeks ago.

She’s been staying with friends and in hotels over the last few days. She’s in shock and she feels “lost.” She just wants to “go back home and climb into her warm bed.” She can’t.

This was her first time visiting Apple Hill. Though she loved it, you could tell she was fighting back the painful tears. Given her current circumstances, this was probably one of the best things she could have done today. She got away from the painful smoky reminder to be around friends – old and new – that will give her the support and care she really needs right now.

Soon she and thousands of others may likely face the daunting task of insurance claims, along with sleepless nights, anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress all while continuing to search for a temporary home in the ensuing days, weeks and months. Eventually and hopefully she and everyone else will secure another permanent or long term home. Perhaps better than the last one.