UTAH -- A Utah family who moved to California 15 years ago is back after losing everything in the Camp Fire. The blaze in Butte County has claimed 29 lives and hundreds of thousands of homes.
“There's just no sun. It's really very eerie and quiet,” said Patrick Christensen, who lost his home in the fire.
While Christensen was at an early morning meeting last week, his wife and two kids decided to leave their hometown of Paradise when it started raining ash.
“Pitch black everywhere and feels like, you know apocalyptic. End of the world,” said Christensen.
Christensen left soon after, but some of his neighbors, who evacuated just 20 minutes later, were fleeing surrounded by flames.
“Yeah, it's just scary. It's just scary you know,” says Christensen.
The family left with nothing, assuming they could come back for their belongings and their three dogs.
“We've been evacuated, maybe I don't know, five times over the years and you just always go back within a day or maybe three days at the worst,” siad Christensen.
Unfortunately, there was nothing to come back to. The fire has wiped out their entire town. At least 6,435 homes lost in Paradise. In some ways, it's created a greater sense of community and shared loss, but logistically it's going to be difficult to move forward.
“Already Butte County had like a vacancy of 1 percent, and so now we just lost a third of the homes so now there’s definitely not enough homes,” said Christensen.
In the meantime, the generosity here in the beehive state is pouring in, adding gratitude to the endless wave of emotions the Christensen’s are experiencing right now.
“To accept help has been really hard but it’s saved our lives,” said Christensen.
Accepting help is so hard for the Christensen's, they insisted we share other GoFundMe pages, rather than their own, to support some of their friends in Paradise who aren't as fortunate as they are.
Here are some of the links to the various GoFundMe pages:
You can also text BUTTEFIRE to 91999 to donate to the United Way of California.