by Stephanie O’Neill
“One of the final memories Carol Holcomb has of her pine-shaded neighborhood was the morning sun that reflected red and gold on her trees last Nov. 8. That day, she said, promised to be a beautiful one in the Butte County town of Paradise.
“So she was surprised to hear what sounded like raindrops tapping her roof a short time later. Holcomb, 56, stepped outside to investigate and saw a chunk of pine bark floating down from the sky.
“‘It was about 3 inches by 2 inches,’ she said. ‘And it was smoking.’
“In the commotion of evacuating from Paradise, Carol Holcomb lost a backpack containing her mother’s Bible, her grandfather’s Purple Heart medal from World War I and photographs of both of them. Thanks to a good Samaritan, she recovered the backpack containing the family treasures.” (Michelle Camy for KHN)
“It was her first glimpse of the approaching wildfire that would become the deadliest and most destructive in California history — one she continues to relive in debilitating nightmares and flashbacks.
“The Camp Fire virtually incinerated Paradise, a town of 27,000. It killed 85 people in the region — many of them elderly. Most died in their homes — others while fleeing in their cars or trying to flee on foot.”