Brenda Howell is glad her father isn’t alive to see Paradise, Calf., today. He was the longtime fire chief of the mountain town of 26,000 and always warned it was a “tinderbox” – with wooden houses built along winding roads in a densely forested mountainside.
Northern California’s Camp Fire proved all of his fears were well founded when it ripped through the town last Thursday. The wildfire wiped out 95% of Paradise, killing at least 49 people in town and seven others in the surrounding area. More than 8,000 homes and businesses were destroyed, leaving most of the city a charred ruin.
Howell lost her home and, like many of her neighbors, she didn’t have fire insurance – leaving her with almost nothing. But she’s determined to rebuild.