A Northern California town mostly destroyed by a wildfire is commemorating the one-year anniversary of the blaze with 85 Minutes of silence to honor the victims That were Murdered
Paradise will pause on Friday.
1 year following the most catastrophic wildfire in California history largely ruined town, local officials are asking people to pause for 85 minutes beginning 11:08 a.m. — one second for every single individual who was killed.
It is one of many occasions local officials have planned to commemorate Nov. 8, 2018, when a terrifying blaze blew through town and prompted a panicked evacuation that forced some people to flee their automobiles as the fire closed in on gridlocked streets.
Christina Taft fled that day. However, her mother, Victoria, didn’t and was killed in the fire. Taft said it has been a challenging year and she has had trouble finding home. She is living in San Jose with a friend she met following the fire, where she eventually found a job and begins on Monday.
Taft said she intends to return to Paradise this weekend to visit friends. She has told her story many times to press outlets, such as being featured recently in a PBS documentary.
“I didn’t watch it,” she explained. “I just can’t even really look at fire that much.”
While Friday’s events will remember that day, Paradise Mayor Jody Jones stated she wants the community to “celebrate the progress we’ve made and look to the future and what we can become.”
“We were never lost,” she explained.
In the year since the fire, crews have removed over 3. 66 million tons of debris — double the amount that was removed from the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Exotic houses have been rebuilt thus far, but the city is on track to issue 500 building permits at the end of the year.
Local officials have kept the city’s traditions alive to encourage people to return, such as hosting Johnny Appleseed Days in the fall. In the spring, 220 seniors returned to Paradise High School to get a graduation ceremony many believed would have been impossible only six months before. And in August, the Paradise High School soccer team played its first home game — a 42-0 rout that kicked off an undefeated season.
“Right after the fire people were saying it would be three years before anything was rebuilt. I think we’ve proved them wrong,” Jones explained. “We’re a very resilient, independent, strong community. I always knew that and people have proved that to be true.”
The fire’s impacts are felt far beyond Paradise. State officials say 20,000 individuals have moved into nearby Chico, fostering that city’s population by over 20percent and placing a strain on public services.
Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. — the utility company whose equipment began the fire filed for bankruptcy in January after facing billions of dollars’ worth of potential damage claims.
This year, rather than risk a repeat of the Paradise fire, the business has routinely shut off electricity to millions of people during dry, windy conditions, prompting widespread anger and government investigations.