Monday Quote: California Wildfire Survivors

Today’s quotes are from survivors of California’s deadly wildfires, particularly the Camp Fire, California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire ever, which devastated the town of Paradise.
In the face of such a terrible disaster (80 dead and over 1,200 still missing), it is important to hear the voices of people who have been through it. And to realize that these people will likely suffer from personal trauma years from now because of their experiences.

Anna Dise, a resident of Butte Creek Canyon west of Paradise, told KRCR TV her father, Gordon Dise, 66, died when he ran back inside to gather belongings and their house collapsed on him.
Dise said she could not flee in her car because the tires had melted. To survive, she hid overnight in a neighbor’s pond with her dogs.
“It was so fast,” Dise recounted of the fire. “I didn’t expect it to move so fast.”

Previous quote from this article.

Nichole Jolly knew it was coming. The 34-year-old Paradise native, a surgical nurse at Adventist Health Feather River hospital, had received a one-word text from her husband earlier that morning: “Fire.” He texted again a minute later, “Huge.”
Pentz Road, one of the town’s four evacuation routes, was jammed. So was the crossroad to the other nearest exit route. Cars inched forward as brush burned on both sides of them and embers rained. People yelled to be heard over the sound of exploding car tires.
The fire caught up to Jolly on Pearson Road, blasting her car with heat. She reached for the stethoscope slung around her neck and flinched as the metal burned. Her steering wheel was melting — the plastic stuck to her hands.
As her car caught fire and began to fill with black smoke, she called her husband. “Run,” he told her.
Jolly fled for safety to the car ahead of hers, but it too was abandoned. She ran on.
The rubber on her shoes melted into the asphalt. The back of her scrubs caught fire, blistering her legs. She tried another car, but it wasn’t moving.
“I can’t die like this,” she told herself. “There’s no way I’m going to die sitting in a car. I have to run.”
Jolly plunged into the smoke, now blinding, and ran with her hands stretched out in front of her. She hit firm, hot metal. A firetruck.
Two firefighters lifted her in and radioed for help, pleading for a water drop. The crackled response came back: “Impossible.”
“Start turning people around,” a dispatcher said. “Get them going toward the hospital.”
They went back through the fire, back past the burning carcasses of a California Highway Patrol car and a state fire vehicle, also abandoned, their occupants fleeing on foot.
The hospital was still standing.

Previous quote from this article.
I am shocked and saddened by the California wildfires. From people who have lost family members and homes to others dealing with deadly air quality issues, this is the most obvious marker yet of what we can expect under climate change conditions. And yes I do think we need to talk about this now, because there’s no better time to talk about it than when people’s lives are at risk.
The featured image for this post is from NASA Earth Observatory/Landsat 8/OLI.

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