CHICO, CA — This was what it was like for many people escaping the Camp Fire on November 8th.
The blaze devastated the city of paradise within hours of starting.
Many were able to evacuate while unfortunately there have been a number of deaths and missing people.
Members of the Paradise Fil-Am group gathered in the hall of our Divine Savior Catholic Church in Chico, located about 16 miles east of the fire area.
The Junio family says that their priority was getting their children out as fast as possible.
“I was so lucky because I think I was the first of the 10 parents who were there but it was chaos already. That was around 7:30 am. So there was black smoke, ash falling, everyone rushing.”
This is what remains of the Wood’s home.
And for the matriarch of the family, Minda, the chaos was extra stressful due to the separation from her kids during the evacuation.
“Three of my kids we went all in different, separate ways so did not get together until 6 o’clock which is a long time for a mother.”
For Marivic Jaks, her home was spared with the fire stopping right at her driveway.
While thankful, she along with others are still not allowed to go back to their neighborhoods.
“We’ve been staying at friends and families and look at me, I’m doing this wash and wear because it happened so fast it made me rattled and I just grabbed what I could and that’s it.”
As of this broadcast — authorities say the death count is up to 79, with almost 700 people still unaccounted for.
These kababayans say their Filipino community of about 300 is safe.
“I’ve been trying to list down who are the families and then try to inquire if they’re ok. And our vice-president also made her list and I compare. According to our list, no Filipino are injured or burned or anything like that unless a Filipino that’s not active that we do not know of.”
According to these families, they will still try their best to celebrate Thanksgiving but they do plan on bringing all the families from the organization together to celebrate Christmas once things are more settled.