The number is amazing: at least 85 people died and 18,793 buildings were destroyed when the natural fire tore through Northern California and destroyed 153,336 hectares.
But last November the campfire claimed the toughest prize on paradise, a city with around 27,000 inhabitants in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
& # 39; Paradise was wiped out in one day & # 39 ;, said Douglas Keister, a photographer who lives in nearby Chico and has kept the aftermath of what is called the most & # 39; destructive and deadliest fire & # 39 ;, that took more than two weeks in the history of the state.
& # 39; Everything is just burned. Until you really experience it, you just can't really understand it. Until you see so many photos. Otherwise it's a little thing that flashes past on TV … and you just go, "that's a shame."
To this end, Keister will release a new book in September, & # 39; People, Places & Pieces of Paradise: The Inferno, Aftermath & Recovery from the Most Destructive Wildfire in California History & # 39 ;.
When the campfire ripped through Northern California from November 8, 2018, it claimed its toughest prize at Paradise, a city of around 27,000 residents in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. & # 39; Paradise was wiped out in one day & # 39; said Douglas Keister, a photographer who lives in nearby Chico and has followed the aftermath of what is the most & # 39; destructive and deadliest fire & # 39; in the history of the state. Above the statue & # 39; Welcome to Bearadise & # 39; that stood for the Black Bear Diner. The dinner was iconic, Keister told DailyMail.com about the image titled Black Bear Diner, Clark Road, Paradise. Somehow the 10 foot long, around 1500 pound sculpture survived. It is now in front of the city's police station
At least 85 people died in the fire, which took more than two weeks to contain, more than 18,700 buildings were destroyed and 153,336 acres were destroyed. Keister, the photographer, said the photo above, Rich Dewell & Import Auto Repair, Clark Road, Paradise, tells the story that when the fire came, the evacuation was so fast that they couldn't take the time to Car to pick up the rack. & # 39; Everyone just had to leave and basically run for their lives. The fire was so intense and moving so fast. & # 39; He compared it to Pompeii and said: & # 39; It's this frozen moment & # 39;
Above a view of two communities destroyed in the fire in an image entitled Edgewood and Sawmill Mobile Home Estates. Keister explained that the sawmill was in the foreground, with Edgewood in the back, separated by a creek. The white in the photo were mobile homes that were completely squashed. Paradise, located on a ridge, was an affordable and rural place for people to retire, Keister noted, with an average age of 55. & # 39; There were 3,000 trailers burning in the fire, & # 39 ; he told DailyMail.com. & # 39; And most people don't come back & # 39;
For more than 20 years, carpenter Greg Zanis from Illinois has had hand-shaped white crosses for victims of tragedies in the United States, including the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and Parkland, Florida. Zanis, the founder of a non-profit named Crosses for Losses, made 85 crosses for those who died as a result of the campfire last November. Keister wrote about the photo above, entitled Crosses For Losses, that the monument is the first thing drivers see when they travel to paradise, and that Zanis set up the crosses a few weeks after the fire. Zanis is quoted as: & # 39; There is no interest here other than to help people remember & # 39;
The Kalico Kitchen was an old local restaurant, started in 1986, that served breakfast, lunch and dinner, according to the website, which was destroyed by the fire. But somehow the sung sign of the greasy spoon survived, shown above in an image titled Molten Sign, Skyway, Paradise. & # 39; Sometimes the signs survived because they were on the street, so they didn't have as much fire as the building & # 39 ;, explains Douglas Keister, a photographer who told the aftermath of the campfire in the city of Paradise.
The morning of November 8, 2018, Keister told DailyMail.com that he had somehow missed the time – that I was somehow wrong with the time … because I was working in my office and it was dark and it was 8:00 am.
& # 39; And I looked out the window and … the sky was black and there was a red-yellow border on the horizon and there were reports of a fire. & # 39;
Keister explained that the area is used to fires in late summer and fall, so the news was not uncommon. He went to the activity he had to do that morning: play softball.
& # 39; But I felt like taking my camera, & # 39; he remembered.
One of the photos he took that morning shows black smoke wavy framed by the colors of the sun – bright red, oranges and yellow – while the game was being played.
& # 39; I mean, it doesn't look real, & # 39; he said about the image. & # 39; It looks like something from a science fiction movie. & # 39;
When it became clear that this was no ordinary fire, Keister said he started photographing around Chico, where he has lived since 2000 and that the hill is away from paradise. The fire threatened Chico at one point, but to prevent it from entering the city, officials set fire to a controlled fire to stop it on its way, known as a backfire.
While Chico was spared, much of paradise was destroyed and it lost about 90 percent of its population.
At one point, the campfire burned every second a soccer field worth of land, and one day it devoured 70,000 hectares, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
It took 18 days to get the fire under control, and during that time the access to the four roads that led to paradise, which are in the mountains, was blocked, Keister explained. He managed to get into town about two weeks after the fire and said the roads were dangerous and clogged with trees and abandoned cars.
& # 39; There were many dead animals on the road. I mean, it was terrible. & # 39;
Photographer Douglas Keister is the author and co-author of more than 40 books, but he had no intention of doing one about Paradise, much of which was destroyed by the campfire last November. Since 2000 a resident of nearby Chico, Keister knew the city and its inhabitants. & # 39; Everything is just burned. Until you really experience it, you just can't really understand it. Until you see so many photos. Otherwise it's a little thing that flashes past on TV … and you just go, "that's a shame." & # 39; Above, an image with the title, Burn-out truck and trailer, Paradise
Keister will release a new book in September, & # 39; People, Places & Pieces of Paradise: The Inferno, Aftermath & Recovery from the Most Destructive Wildfire in California History & # 39 ;. He spent about three times a week in Paradise to take pictures of what happened after the fire. He used a drone for many of the images, including those above called McDonald's, Clark Road, Paradise. & # 39; Burning behavior is just, you know, predictably unpredictable, & # 39; he told DailyMail.com. The McDonald's board, with its & # 39; Billions & Billions Served & # 39 ;, is untouched and interspersed with destruction in the background
& # 39; One of the things that struck me was that all the houses were gone, cars were burned, everything was gone, but the bins were fine. It was the weirdest thing, & Keister told DailyMail.com. The photographer had arrived in paradise about two weeks after the fire and said the bins were on the street because it was a day for waste collection. He wrote about the above nameless image: & # 39; Since almost everything that was flammable was completely burned to the ground, one of the most common sights was washing machines and dryers, toolboxes and plastic bins & # 39;
The mission of the Gold Nugget Museum is to preserve and protect the Ridge heritage by collecting and displaying local artifacts and with & # 39; s programs for community education & # 39 ;, the website said. According to the Gold Rush & # 39; community-funded and volunteer-run repository and local mining history & # 39; Atlas Obscurawas completely destroyed in the fire. Above, & # 39; volunteers and Chico State Anthropology students have saved and tagged artifacts & # 39 ;, Keister wrote about an image entitled Rescuing artefacts, Gold Nugget Museum, Pearson Road, Paradise
Paradise had a vintage and auto show culture with a contingent of people, mostly retirees, who restored old cars, Keister explained. When the fire came to paradise, people took their SUV and not their old-timer to escape, he said, and many of them were left behind. & # 39; They were just toast. & # 39; Above an example of what happened to a vintage vehicle in a photo titled Ford Model A, Black Olive Drive, Paradise
The few blocks that Keister saw showed how different this fire was.
& # 39; With a normal fire you had a skeleton with a structure left – something. But everything had burned down to the ground, & he said. & # 39; You only had ashes and metal left. & # 39;
His photos reveal the extent of the destruction with houses and businesses reduced to rubble. One image shows two flattened mobile home communities.
& # 39; There were 3000 trailers burning in the fire, & # 39; he said. & # 39; And most people don't come back. & # 39;
Located on a ridge, Paradise was an affordable, rural place for people to retire, Keister noted, with an average age of 55. It also has prosperous areas such as Cliff Drive, which looks down on Butte Creek Canyon, and where houses were also added.
& # 39; The fire did not discriminate, & # 39; he said.
After that first trip to paradise, Keister made a planned trip. When he returned, he spoke to his fellow softball players and told them he could photograph their property if they wanted to. He then went to town about three times a week to shoot and people started asking him about doing a book.
& # 39; I just knew it was a story to be told, & # 39; said Keister, who has written and co-written more than 40 books. & # 39; I have done this before, I have enough experience and I know enough people in paradise. I actually had no choice, because it is in your own back yard. & # 39;
He said he realized after taking photos of the damage and destruction that are book was really about people: 50,000 people were evacuated and 25,000 lost their homes in the fire. He started taking portraits of residents and talking to them about their experiences. Even those who are reserved opened up over the fire, he said.
& # 39; It's just great because it has a fright in their brains. & # 39;
Keister said that after taking photos of the damage and destruction, he realized that his book was really about people: 50,000 people were evacuated and 25,000 lost their homes in the fire. He started making portraits of residents of Paradise and talking to them about their experiences. Even those who are reserved opened it, he said. & # 39; It's just great because it has a fright in their brains. & # 39; Twenty-eight people died in the fire, and above it a memorial for the victims in an image entitled Crosses For Losses At Sunset
One of the last photos Keister made for the book is by Iris Natividad, who lost her friend Andrew Downer in the fire. & # 39; Many of the 85 fatalities in the campfire were people who simply could not escape from their homes before the fire engulfed them, & he wrote about the above image titled Andrew Downer Memorial Cross. Downer was an amputee who used a wheelchair and was waiting for a prosthetic leg, he wrote. His assistance dog, Bertha, who did not leave his side, also died. Natividad kneels in front of Downer's cross above
The campfire was fast and people fled the city to escape. Many lost everything. Nicole Clark had deposited her son, Kayden Sellers, the morning of the fire at Paradise Elementary School. However, the school quickly called on her to get Kayden as the fire progressed, Keister wrote about the above image called Nicole Clark, Kayden Sellers and Philbin Bear, Inez Way, Paradise. They were able to get their three dogs, two cats, as well as Kayden & # 39; s Superman-cape and Philbin Bear, according to Keister, and then drove through the flames to safety
Fotograaf Douglas Keister werd voorgesteld aan Meghan en Charley Turner, hierboven, via Melissa Schuster, een lid van de Paradise Town Council die een evenementencentrum bezat en exploiteerde genaamd Chapelle de L'Artiste Chateau & Retreat. De Turners trouwden in het evenementencentrum en elk jaar kwamen ze terug op hun verjaardag om een herdenkingsfoto te maken. Maar de faciliteit brandde vorig jaar af in de brand. Keister maakte een foto van hen thuis, boven, voor een afbeelding genaamd Meghan en Charley Turner bij de restanten van hun huis. Hij zei dat ze sindsdien zijn verhuisd naar het nabijgelegen Chico
Hierboven verloor Melissa Schuster, een lid van de Paradise Town Council, zowel haar huis als haar bedrijf en evenementencentrum genaamd Chapelle de L'Artiste Chateau & Retreat in Camp Fire van afgelopen november. De week daarvoor had ze een Halloween-feest op het complex georganiseerd. Niet zeker wat ze wilde zijn voor haar geliefde vakantie, had ze een paar kostuums besteld. Na de brand arriveerde er een, de Evil Queen van het tv-programma 'Once Upon a Time', en het was een frustrerende herinnering aan alle kostuums die ze had verloren. Toen Keister vroeg om haar foto te nemen, stelde hij voor dat ze iets formeels droeg. 'Ik heb geen avondkleding,' herinnerde ze zich dat ze hem had verteld en lachte toen. 'Ik heb drie sets kleren. En toen herinnerde ik me het gekke kostuum en ik dacht: "Oh nee, dit is perfect, dit is wat ik moet doen"
Residents' stories had similarities, such as how they tried to get out of town once the fire quickly spread, but they were also singular, he said. One image in the book is of Meghan and Charley Turner. The couple stands in front of the ruins that once was their house, and amid the debris only the square rim of the foundation remains. Keister said they moved to Chico after the fire.
Another picture shows Nicole Clark and her son, Kayden Sellers, who is wearing a Superman cape and holding his teddy bear – those were the only things they managed to get out of the house. People simply had no time to gather more because the fire was just that fast.
Keister noted that unless one has experienced losing everything, it is something that can't be fathomed.
For her portrait, Melissa Schuster wore one of the few pieces of clothing she had left: a Halloween costume that arrived late after the fire.
Schuster, a member of the Paradise Town Council, lost both her home and her business, an events center called Chapelle de L'Artiste Chateau & Retreat, in the fire. The week before she had hosted a Halloween party.
'I hadn't made up my mind as to what my costume would be so I ordered a couple of costumes online before the Halloween party,' she told DailyMail.com. 'Halloween was my jam.'
At the events facility, she had stored several costumes, which all had burned, and so when the one of the Evil Queen from the TV show 'Once Upon a Time,' arrived in the mail, Shuster was annoyed and stowed it away in a cupboard in her RV, where she and her husband are now living.
When Keister asked to take her picture, he suggested that she wear something formal.
'I have no evening wear,' she recalled telling him and then laughed. 'I have three sets of clothes… And then I remembered the silly costume and I thought, "Oh no, this is perfect, this is what I have to do."'
'The fire did not discriminate,' photographer Douglas Keister told DailyMail.com about the destruction it wrecked on the town of Paradise. While many retirees flocked to the town because it was affordable and bucolic, he said, there were more affluent areas, such as Paradise Ridge, which had beautiful views of Butte Creek Canyon. 'They got hit from both sides – they got it coming up and they got it going sideways,' he said, writing about the above image, Cliff Drive, Paradise, only a few of the homes survived
For his new book, 'People, Places & Pieces of Paradise: The inferno, Aftermath & Recovery from the Most Destructive Wildfire in California History,' which will be released in September, Keister went to Paradise about three times a week to chronicle how the Camp Fire ravaged the town. He used a drone for some of the shoots because 'you couldn't really get a sense of it until you got up into the air a little bit,' he said. Above, an image titled Acorn Court (Castle Drive on upper right), Paradise, taken with a drone that Keister said shows the 'effect of places just burning completely to the ground'
One of California's major utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, known as PG&E, was responsible for the Camp Fire. Its power lines were the points of ignition for the fire, which then spread due to 'warm temperatures, dry vegetation, and strong winds,' according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Verge reported. The utility, which filed for bankruptcy in January, will pay a billion to local governments for the Camp Fire and other wildfires with Paradise getting a $270 million slice of that amount, Fox News reported. Thousands of vehicles were destroyed during the fire: some were left at home while others were abandoned on the road when tires caught on fire, according to Keister. Above, an image titled Vehicle Storage Yard, Skyway, Paradise
'Everything just incinerated. Until you really experience it, it's just you can't really understand it. Until you see this many pictures. Otherwise, it's a little thing that flashes by on TV… and you just go, "that's too bad,"' photographer Douglas Keister said. To that end, he is releasing a new book, 'People, Places & Pieces of Paradise: The inferno, Aftermath & Recovery from the Most Destructive Wildfire in California History,' in September. Above, an image from the book that shows what is left of a house in the foreground and three apartments in the back
The morning of the fire, November 8, 2018, Keister told DailyMail.com that he 'somehow missed the time – that I had somehow got the time wrong… 'cause I was working in my office and it was dark and it was 8am.' Keister explained that the area is accustomed to fires in the late summer and fall so the news wasn't that unusual, and he went to the activity he was scheduled to do that morning: play softball. Twenty-one of the players in the league lost their homes while more than 35 were temporarily displaced, according to Keister, who said that the above image, Rex Murphy Field, Hooker Oak Complex, Chico, 'looks like something out of some sci-fi movie'
After it became clear that this was no ordinary fire, Keister said he began photographing around Chico, where he has lived since 2000 and which is down the hill from Paradise. The fire threatened Chico at one point, he said, but to prevent it from entering the town, officials set a controlled fire to stop it in its path, what is known as a back burn. Chico residents woke up to 'a thick black sky rimmed with yellow and red at the horizon,' Keister wrote about the above image Chico Creek Mobile Estates, Manzanita Avenue, Chico
Crews from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, known as PG&E, were at the event center to cut down trees the day Keister took her picture, she said.
One of California's major utilities, PG&E was responsible for the Camp Fire. Its power lines were the points of ignition for the fire, which then spread due to 'warm temperatures, dry vegetation, and strong winds,' according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Verge reported. The utility, which filed for bankruptcy in January, will pay a billion to local governments for the Camp Fire and other wildfires with Paradise getting $270 million, Fox News reported.
Schuster told DailyMail.com that she was undeterred by the men working that day.
When Keister started photographing Paradise after the fire, he was not planning on doing a book, but eventually, with local residents encouragement, he decided to do one. 'I was doing this because I thought it needed to be done… Eventually it's going to be scraped clean and eventually something will emerge,' Keister, who has authored and co-authored over 40 books, told DailyMail.com. 'I'm a history guy… It's about, you know, preserving the past to better the future.' Above, the cover of his book that will be come out in September
'I put on this costume and I just walked through all the ash and debris and all of these people that were turning and looking at me with a bottle of champagne and a glass in my hand, and it felt like I was just, I don't know, holding up my fist to the fire and saying, "take this."'
One of the last pictures Keister took for the book is of Iris Natividad, who lost her boyfriend, Andrew Downer, in the fire. Downer, an amputee who was using a wheelchair, was unable to get out of his home when the fire hit, and his service dog, Bertha, who didn't leave his side, also died. In the image, Natividad kneels in front of Downer's memorial cross.
Keister is also recording the recovery effort, saying that the cleanup process is going faster than expected.
'It went from being eerie up there… 'cause no dogs were barking, no birds were chirping – it was strange,' he said. 'It'll be like an empty canvas waiting for next incarnation, whatever that might be. Right now, it's gone from eerie to busy.'
Thus far, over 10,000 properties have been cleared of debris, 172 building permits have been issued and two home have been rebuilt, according to a August 21 update on the Town of Paradise website.
Schuster said that the town is resilient, and estimated 4,000 people have moved back to Paradise.
'Our sense is that probably half of the community will return,' she said, adding that there will be challenges to the several years of recovery.
Nonetheless she is optimistic.
'I think this is going to be a catalyst for positive change in our community. I really do. At least that's where I live is in the opportunities as opposed to the disaster.'
Geralynne Rader, above, is part of the Volunteers In Police Service. The morning of the fire, she checked on her mother, stepfather and husband while she contributed to the effort to help those in need, like the elderly women she took to safety, and pitching in with traffic control. Rader lost her cats and her home, and spent the night of the first day of the fire, November 8, 2018, in her car in a church parking lot, according to Keister. Above, an image titled Geralynne Rader, Sawmill Road, Paradise
Jayne Locas, above, started planting daffodils around Paradise, inspired by the project that began in the wake of 9/11. She 'decided to apply the idea of planting the early-blooming flowers as a symbol of hope and resilience,' Keister wrote about the above image titled, Jayne Locas, Foster Road and Skyway, Paradise. In 2008, Paradise was hit with a fire that damaged parts of the town, and Locas planted more bulbs. Over 200,000 daffodils have been put in around Paradise by Locas and volunteers. Keister wrote: 'The daffodils that burst forth from the burnt landscape in late winter 2019 gave hope and sustenance to visitors and residents of the Ridge'
Paradise's recovery from the fire continues and thus far, over 10,000 properties have been cleared of debris, 172 building permits have been issued, and two home have been rebuilt, according to an August 21 update on the Town of Paradise website. Melissa Schuster, a Paradise Town Council member, told DailyMail.com that an estimated 4,000 people have moved back. 'I think this is going to be a catalyst for positive change in our community. I really do. At least that's where I live is in the opportunities as opposed to the disaster.' Above, an image titled Daffodils at Ridgewood Mobile Home Park. Photographer Douglas Keister said it shows 'the resiliency of nature'
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