When the Carr Fire Gets Personal

Thursday afternoon on Highway 44 in Redding. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

The Carr Fire is a violent monster. It shows no mercy. It goes where it wants and takes what it wishes. By day it crouches like a coward behind its ugly smokescreen where we can’t see its destructive flames. Our eyes and lungs feel the sting. We’re blinded by smoke. Where is it? Where is it?

The Carr Fire takes that wicked opportunity to cook up a thick, putrid-smoke soup, obliterating mountains and sky, concealing fire targets from fire-fighting aircraft high above, giving the beast a daytime advantage to have its way with our north state until nightfall.

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An air tanker navigates through the thick smoke. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

It shakes its wild, angry, boiling head of clouds – weather it’s created especially for this horrible occasion.

Photo by Matt Grigsby.

Ash falls like funeral confetti, covering every single thing.

Under an eerie Halloween glow, people flock to the safety of high, distant places where we gawk west at an unbelievable sky.

Hilltop Drive crowds stare west toward the Carr Fire. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

By night the wind energizes this monster, infusing it with fresh oxygen that emboldens it to leap up  and reach for the stratosphere; orange and black and furious where it mocks us with massive, waving red fingers.

Screen grab of time-lapse series by Jonathan Harris.

It’s displaced nearly 40,000 of us from our homes. It’s claimed 80,000 acres and climbing, with 5 percent containment, which is basically no containment. It’s torched and destroyed more than 500 confirmed structures, and we dread the official count, because we know the numbers will take our breath away.

Here in Redding, I have been evacuated, but I’m far from alone. In fact, it’s no exaggeration when I say that I personally know more Redding people who’ve been evacuated than those who have not.

The Carr Fire monster has annihilated entire neighborhoods, taking with it the homes of anyone it wants, even the home of Redding Police Chief Roger Moore. The Carr Fire monster has injured citizens running for their lives, and firefighters and first-responders who’ve put their lives on the line to battle this ferocious flaming beast.

Out of respect for their privacy, I won’t name them here, but I have lost count of how many friends and acquaintances who’ve lost their homes to the Carr Fire. My heart breaks for them. Some of these newly homeless people include a few of aNewsCafe.com’s own.

And one of our ANC contributors was injured when he fell from a friend’s deck in the dark as he rushed to help her evacuate Thursday.

Hallmark doesn’t make a card for this situation. Words fail.

In the grocery store, I recognize the dazed, zombie-stares of fellow evacuees, and those who’ve lost homes. I see parking lots with vehicles, boats and flat-bed trailers crammed with bulging laundry baskets and boxes that hold photo albums, stuffed animals and clothes. These are not the vehicles of travelers. These are the vehicles of the evacuated, the newly homeless, and the soon-to-be homeless.

The Carr Fire is personal. My daughter-in-law’s brother and fiance’s home burned to the ground. Their wedding was scheduled for Aug. 5. My twin’s neighborhood is evacuated. Many of my friends have evacuated, and some remain unsure of the status of their homes.

My mind is at ease knowing that my daughter, and daughter-in-law, and grandchildren are out of harm’s way, away from the smoke, far from Shasta County.

Evacuated neighborhoods look like ghost towns. The relatively lucky ones have CHP, RPD, National Guard and firefighting personnel standing watch 24/7.

Firefighters stand watch over active hot spots near Quartz Hill Road. Photo by Doni Chamberlain

In other neighborhoods, such as where my 80-year-old home is located, there have been reports of looting by despicable opportunistic human cockroaches who skitter in the dark with flashlights as they break into abandoned homes in search of valuables. Guess what, assholes? I already took with me my most-precious valuables: Photo albums, my kids’ clay projects, artwork created by my twin, daughter and sons, the toddler-sized pear sculpture hand-made by my sister, and that massive old portrait of my mother, who stares at me from the backseat as I drive through Redding’s smoky streets.

Everything else is just stuff.

I’m alive, unlike those murdered by the Carr Fire: 70-year-old Melody Bledsoe and her great-grandchildren, 5-year-old James Roberts and 4-year-old Emily Roberts; 37-year-old Redding Fire Inspector Jeremy Stoke of Redding, and 81-year-old private dozer operator, Don Ray Smith of Pollock Pines.

Many Redding streets are blocked. Others have traffic lights that flash red. That’s the color of the week: Red. No green in sight.

Friday, private contractors hired by Southern Pacific Railroad scrambled to quickly cut back brush below the massive railroad trestle that towers high in the air, and crosses the Sacramento River. Can you imagine that trestle on fire. No. Hell no.

Crews race to remove brush and fuel below the Southern Pacific Railroad near Benton Road off North Market Street in Redding. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

I’m numb. I never believed that my urban neighborhood, surrounded by asphalt streets, concrete sidewalks and even rock walls, would be in real danger. I confess that I ignored the frantic warnings from my sister all day Thursday, and her increasingly urgent pleas to leave. I wasn’t worried. I told her I hadn’t been officially evacuated. I was so confident that I would be staying put that I even invited friends who’d been evacuated from Sunset Terrace to come stay with me, never imaging that by nightfall, I’d be the one needing a place to go. (I’m at my daughter’s in Enterprise.)

I now remind myself of two words: Santa Rosa.

Thursday, shortly before 10 p.m., the California National Guard rolled through my old neighborhood, bellowing through bullhorns orders to leave immediately.

Oh, Shasta County, my poor Shasta County! Oh, Redding, my poor Redding! What will become of you? What will become of us?

There’s no denying that the Carr Fire has taken so much from us. There’s no doubt it’s shaken us to our core and it’s frightened us into submission.

Even so, we have so much to be grateful for. We have law enforcement, emergency workers, firefighters and the National Guard, whose mission is to risk their lives to protect us.

Firefighters sleep on the ground in the Mary Lake area in west Redding after establishing a fire break. Photo by Richard Tuggle.

Most of all, we have each other.

Of course, you have aNewsCafe.com, but there are other stellar local media, such as KQMS radio and KRCR TV; professionals who toil around the clock to continue bringing you accurate news and information.

Good stories abound of selfless people and generous businesses demonstrating supreme acts of kindness, of going above and beyond to help not just friends and family, but total strangers.

I’m grateful for every one of them, just as I’m grateful to the young man in a huge red truck who stopped in front of my house Thursday night and asked if I needed help removing things from my house. I said no, thank you. Now I wish I’d gotten his name.

Yes, much is lost, but not all is lost. We haven’t lost hope. We haven’t lost our love for this area we call home. We’re north state people. We know how to rise to a challenge. In fact, we’re at our very best when we’re tested. We will not fail.

Yes, the Carr Fire is a formidable foe. But we’re stronger. We’ll get through this, and when we do, we’ll end up stronger than ever.


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Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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81 Responses

  1. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    I’m 150 miles away but I feel the fear and anger and misery through these words.

  2. Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

    This entire experience has been so unreal, I keep thinking perhaps I’m imagining it. It’s changing hour by hour and minute by minute. I’m grateful everyone I love is safe but my heart breaks for what is being lost.

  3. Avatar Ken says:

    Very well said. Stay safe.

  4. Avatar Michelle T. says:

    Doni, this really sums up how I’ve been feeling the last few days. I have several friends who are now homeless, and the loss of life is tragic. I had to stop watching the news because it was making me panic. We have stuff packed and ready to go, if needed. This situation is unreal.

    • Michelle, I feel panicked, too. It’s so scary.

      You’re wise to be packed and ready to go. Remember that Shasta County remains under an evacuation warning, which means to be at the ready to leave. Don’t leave it to the last minute. Gather medications, special sentimental items, important papers, etc.

      Stay safe, Michelle.

  5. Avatar Viki Twyman says:

    This literally is Hell on Earth! I have lived here for 61 years and have never experienced anything like this. My childhood home was destroyed. My brother who lives on the same property, had his home destroyed. I have so many friends who have lost their homes, and somevwhose homes we’re miraculously saved. My oldest daughter still does not know if she has a house to go home to. I am so, so heartsick. So devestating.

    • “Hell” is the word I’ve heard used to this situation than any other. I’m so sorry about your losses, Viki!

      We’re collectively heartsick. We’re in this together.

  6. James Theimer James Theimer says:

    Many are reporting the facts. You have provided a true sense of the thing, a balance between the particular hell that is Redding right now and an optimist’s hope for the future. Well said, as always.

  7. Avatar Mary says:

    You summed up exactly how I feel.
    My heart is filled with such sadness
    I cry, I pray and try not to feel shame
    because I haven’t loss my home yet
    May God Bless our Firefighters, Police and Emergency personal

  8. Avatar Janette S says:

    You are so spot on! Helpless from here. I’m hanging on to memories 40 years in the making in the area. Praying that all of my friends and family remain safe….and also those I do not know, but I am emotionally taking this journey with. Stay safe….and I hope we can all recover from this disaster!

    • You’re like Barbara, where your body is elsewhere, but your heart is here. I can feel the worry from so many – my son in the Czech Republic feels this way, too – who feel helpless from afar to do anything to help.

  9. R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    I fear what’s going to be revealed when the veil of smoke that has descended upon Shasta County is lifted. My folks live east of I-5 and aren’t in danger but came up to our place in Whitmore after they received a premature evacuation notice on Thursday night. I’ve been downtown twice and can tell you Lake Boulevard from Redding to Shasta Lake is closed. That’s the part of the fire moving north. It is also moving south and all roads leading west from Higway 273 are blocked, from Redding to Anderson. The idea appears to be to prevent the fire from moving east into Redding. In Whitmore we’re praying no embers drift our way because we’re a tinderbox.

  10. Avatar Renae Tolbert says:

    Love your heart Doni. Been here since 1982 and have not seen anything like this ever…. I keep thinking I am pretty safe where I am off of Victor, but seriously, there is a part of me that says, “Don’t be so confident! Pack that go bag!”

  11. Avatar Elizabeth Schroeder says:

    Thank you for the way you have captured this tragedy. I haven’t been able to express how this feels to family and friends thousands of miles away. They see photos, but they don’t understand that the fear and unknown causes trauma, too. Sleepless nights, wondering if you are safe, wondering if your home made it through. Its nerve racking. We evacuated our west side home after seeing flames from the end of our driveway. Then we had to plan evacuation from our shop property off 273- which for the moment is still safe. We’ve been back home, and all is well. It’s crazy though- I told everyone Wednesday without a doubt in my mind- “we’re safe. Forest fires don’t come into towns, they stay out beyond that far tree line…” My sad false narrative. We’re so very fortunate. And we’re so very heartbroken for those who fear the unknown and those who know the worst. Praying for our firefighters and all those helping to fight this beast. Praying for all those still in danger, praying for us all.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      With their wide streets & sidewalks, manicured lawns, and orderly rows, suburban neighborhoods feel like a place where nature has been tamed. But, as this photo from Santa Rosa shows, they are still not immune from wildfire: http://www.latimes.com/resizer/QQ0deMVTqmrAiA9NDkSfZcPwRfE=/1200×0/www.trbimg.com/img-59dc0975/turbine/la-me-g-before-after-coffey-park-20171009/

    • “Forest fires don’t come into towns, they stay out beyond that far tree line…”

      Exactly. I haven’t slept more than a few hours a night since this started. The first night I slept in my clothes. I feel like this and I still have a home .. I CANNOT wrap my brain around how I’d feel if I lost my home and all my belongings, especially after remodeling this house.

      But really, more of my anxiety has to do with the entire city than it does my home.

      I’m glad you’re home. (Curious, how did you know it was OK? This is a question I keep asking people … and I get varied responses. On Nextdoor.com I have two neighbors who’ve returned. One said she called RPD and was told it was OK. I called RPD and they didn’t tell me the same thing. And another neighbor said she asked a CDF neighbor, and he said yes.)

      Either way, please stay safe.

      We’re simpatico.

      • Avatar Michelle T. says:

        I agree with having anxiety regarding the town! My home is fine too, and I am so thankful. But there are many areas in Redding that I know well that are forever changed. Honestly, if our home burns, I don’t think I will return. It would be time to move on.

  12. Avatar Kathy Neuhaus says:

    Beautifully described….such tragedy all around you. We lived in Redding from 1990-1997 when my late husband was the pastor at the Congregational Church. I have many friends in Redding and am so very overwhelmed by the losses and grief of everyone. We lived in Country Heights which was evacuated. Continuing to pray for all of us because this has touched many people. Stay strong in your faith realizing that some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.

    • Kathy, I will commit that line to memory: “Stay strong in your faith realizing that some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”

      Thank you! Stay safe.

  13. Avatar Rita Panike says:

    Thank you for capturing exactly how we all feel Doni. Although we’re not evacuated, we’re close. When we turn into our neighborhood on the east side of 273 we see the police and National Guard on the west side of 273 reminding us that the next level of evacuations will include us.
    Brad works for REU out at the Power Control Center on Clear Creek Road. He has been there nonstop and they have so much work ahead of them. He sent me out of town yesterday and told me not to come back last night because it wasn’t safe. I listened because while he worked Thursday night and I got stuck in gridlock on Miracle Mile watching the flames come toward me, I experienced terror I never thought possible. I never slept Thursday night. And the worry yesterday when they evacuated Clear Creek Road but the guys at the power plant stayed behind…. the emotional stress is unreal.
    I’m back today and Redding feels like a war zone. It’s surreal, it’s eerie, it’s sad. But I know we will come together as a community and rebuild. We will be stronger than ever, I know we will!

    • Rita, God bless your Brad, because he’s another one working for us during this disaster.

      War zone. That’s another term used a lot. Hell. War zone.

      We will come through this. But first, it’s going to hurt.

  14. Sad to share this. Our daughter was an evacuee a year ago in Sonoma County. Her home was threatened but survived. I asked her today if the recovery was coming along in Santa Rosa
    . She said hardly anything had been done or rebuilt. She said scorched vehicles,power lines ,poles and chunks obstructing streets were gone but little else. I’m wondering if insurance settlements are driving recovery efforts. Your description was spot on. We’re fortunate as our kids and friends “evacuated” us a year ago from our Mary Lake home of over twenty years.We relocated to the Seattle area. We would have had a devil of a time as my husband is on oxygen and has trouble walking. Our kids are so relieved as they knew we’re ok. Stay safe all. I left my ? in Redding.

    • This is one of those times when I’m glad for the people who’ve moved away.

      I really HATE to hear that Santa Rosa isn’t much better now than it was a year ago. I know it sounds arrogant, but my first thought was, hell no, we wouldn’t allow that.

      Thank you for sharing, Suellen. Breathe some fresh air for us. xo

  15. Avatar Kathy Jen says:

    Your article brought me to tears. Redding has been my home town since 1978….a childhood home full of memories. A city and county that made me who I am today. I now live in the Bay Area, but my heart will always reside in Redding. I am praying my moms’ home remains safe. Thank you for capturing the words I have not been able to form since this whole thing started.

    • It’s weird, in some ways I think people who’ve moved away, but whose hearts are still here, are having a more difficult time than those of us who still live here.

      May I ask, what area is your mom’s house. (She’s not there, right?)

  16. Jon Lewis Jon Lewis says:

    Thanks Doni for the helpful words. Plenty of work lies ahead but we’ll get ‘er done. By god.

  17. Terry Terry says:

    Amen, Doni! Amen.

  18. Avatar Beth says:

    You are a wonderful writer.

  19. Avatar Yolanda T. says:

    As I stood one black from I-5 on the emwest side and saw how fast that come came up to Mercy I thought I’d never been so scared. I packed a bag and have my meds in paper bags by it I just pray that is all I will have to do. My hat is off to you all on the west side and celebrate your stamina. Bless you all helping to fight this fire and bless you the most for your dedication to Hythe city and county

    • I can only imagine how frightening that would feel. There’s nothing like the fury of fire.

      Thank you for the nice words. I wish I had stamina. I don’t have stamina. I had a Bold Cliff IPA and a Neapolitan ice cream sandwich for dinner.

      Hang in there. Stay safe.

  20. Avatar Rebecca Barker says:

    Doni, You spoke for all of us. Thank you. Was it just a year ago that I lived the agony re: friends and family in Santa Rosa? A helpless terror. But, Sdanta Rosa is sprouting new buds of growth and greenery. Redding is every bit as resilient.

    • Yes, last year it was Santa Rosa. I remember how my heart went out to that city and its residents and all of Sonoma County then. And here we are …

      Good to know that Santa Rosa has some new growth. And we ARE resilient!

  21. Avatar Amy Hallmark says:

    I lived in Redding from 1996 to January of 2007 (am now in Reno) and I love that city. I still have friends there (as well as ex-husbands) and only a couple of those friends I know are safe – or they were Thursday night. My parents are in Mt Shasta city and my mom posts info for me on my FB timeline. I also have a very good friend who is a firefighter and has let me know how things are – what he can. it makes me want to cry (as did reading this of yours had me wanting to cry). With this of yours, I can see it all in my mind. I saw the destruction of Santa Rosa when I was in that area back in October during those fires and it hurts my heart that Redding is being attacked like that by the Carr fire.

    Stay safe and I hope this gets actually contained soon.

  22. If it makes you feel any better, I may have cried a little while I wrote this, too. It’s so damn scary and frustrating!

    I am with you. I hope the fire is contained soon. But at only 5 percent, we have a long, long way to go.

    I wish you safety, too.

  23. Avatar PamBaugh says:

    Redding strong!

  24. Avatar Tiffany says:

    This is the absolute Truth!!! Thank You for this article. Its Heartbreaking! #CarrFire #PrayForRedding #ReddingStrong

  25. Avatar Sharon Clary says:

    Thank you for your heartfelt and wrenching description of being there. Many prayers for you and my friends thete and the entire area.our God reigns even tho we may at times question our faith. Praying for a new day without this fire and the fear it brings. From Grants Pass, OR?

  26. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    I may have posted this on the Convo, but here goes again. We live in wildfire country here in Eastern County, and I’ve always been smug in thinking that if we have to evacuate – again, I might add – we can pack very little and head to our bungalow in Redding. But now, I don’t know if our Redding place is still there. According to the newscasts, our area hasn’t been evacuated yet. Our house is south of the library and cop shop, east of 273. But the most recent map I saw has the east edge of the blaze heading to downtown and our area. I’d hate to lose our house but better the house than a firefighter attempting to save it. Houses are replaceable, firefighters are not. To the firefighters and all emergency personnel, I say: do your best for us but keep yourselves safe. Once this terror is past, it will be roll-up-our-sleeves time. I hope Redding does better than Santa Rosa has.

    Thank you, Doni, for this excellent piece. And thanks, too, to the others who have written columns here on ANC. And further thanks for all the comments. Redding strong, indeed.

  27. Avatar Ricky Barcus says:

    This words are so eloquently written it is impossible not to be moved if from this area or affected in any way by this fire. Thank you, there is no doubt in my mind why you are an awarded journalist.

  28. Deb Deb says:

    Oh, Doni. Your beautiful, raw, broken heart is here in this piece, your sadness and fear and hope and helplessness and love. Over in Scotland there’s absolutely nothing I can do for any of you, but I’ve been glued to Facebook and ANC to keep up with you all, to know that you are safe physically even while your hearts break and you all find ways to cope with the hell of it all.

    Thank you – to you, to everyone at ANC who are contributing information and photos and support every hour of the day and night. As for the rescue workers, firefighters, and all of those who put themselves in the path of danger for the sake of the safety of others, there are no adequate words… they are heroes.

    Love to all of you…

  29. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    Thank you for writing this well-written piece. Forgive me for being self-indulgent right now. But it’s 4:00, and I still can’t sleep. I need to write some of our experience. We were evacuated at 2am off of Rock Creek Road in Old Shasta. I’m trying to not beat myself up for not packing items up in advance. We saw flames down the road as we were leaving. I can’t remember what day that was. We made a wrong turn while trying to find a hotel, and passed VCA animal hospital. OMG, I thought. I had read on FB that they board animals. And they did. In the middle of the night, we were able to board our cat who was freaking out. He’s still there. We couldn’t find a hotel room until noon. Found the Travel Lodge on north Market, and were evacuated from there at 10pm. Went out to Shasta College, and it was full. Heard on the radio that Grace Baptist Church was “opening their doors.” And they did. They were so kind. So kind. I still couldn’t sleep, but it was a place with a restroom, AC, an electrical outlet for my laptop, wifi, food. I don’t have a cell phone, yet I was able to let family and friends know via email and FB that were were safe. A volunteer gave me a hug. When morning came, we got a tip on a hotel room at LaQuinta. People from outside Redding were canceling their reservations, so things had opened up a bit. Now they are full again, and we only made reservations for seven days. I don’t know what’s next. A note was put under our door that there would be no cleaning service, and maybe towels were available. Most of the staff couldn’t report to work because they too had been evacuated. It’s the same for Orchard Nutrition they said (regarding staffing), so they have been closing early. We dropped off a hundred dollar donation to the church that helped us. They didn’t want to take it, but I just didn’t have the words to express thank you enough. I just wish I knew if we had a house standing or not. I just wish I knew. Repeat: I just wish I knew. The neighbors next to us said, via email, that their homes were gone, but they didn’t know about ours. I wonder why they know about their homes. I can’t remember how long we have been wandering. All I grabbed on the way out were two, separate photos of us as children that I had displayed on the table by the door. The rest of the family history remains behind. I’m getting it that it’s going to be a long time either way – house standing or not. Some friends have offered their homes. They live four hours away. We are private people, and I don’t want to intrude. I just want to know if we need to rent a place near-by for making repairs, or if we find a new location anywhere, because the house is gone. I just wish I knew. In closing, the lines are long at Safeway and other stores that are still open. Yes, R.V., traffic lights are blinking. I saved the library books that were by the door as well. I just couldn’t imagine a library book being burned. I returned them today. The library was a ghost town. If I had a home right now, I would be volunteering at a shelter. Because I know what this feels like. I’m appreciating this forum. My anxiety is better. Thank you for allowing my self-indulgence, and poor writing skills. It’s just so damn hard to think.

    • Avatar Maureen says:

      You speak for so many. Thanks for sharing.

    • Your words were not self-indulgent. They were real and told your story. I am honored that you shared your story with us here.

      Don’t beat yourself up for anything. You did fine. You got out with your lives and your cat. And library books.

      You’re part of our family here at aNewsCafe.com. Please do let us know why you learn. With all my heart I hope your home survived.

      Stop by any time and give us the updates. Bless you. Stay safe.

  30. I only left my hometown of Redding a year ago, but I have over a dozen friends who have already lost their homes. Family and friends….you will get through this!

  31. Avatar Sherinda says:

    Sending all my love and prayers to our little home town, I have been following the news and I continue to have my heart break from all that’s being lost, it may take a good while for Shasta county to bounce back from this but that’s what us northern California people do, felling heart broken I am not able to help in any way because I am out of state but my prayers, thoughts, support and love are right there with everyone… #ReddingStrong

  32. Avatar Tom Cummings says:

    Ah, Doni, this is so wonderful. Thank you for this entire, heartfelt, tragic piece, but particularly the message of hope at the end. We will endure. We will prevail. Redding strong. ??

  33. Avatar Richard Goates says:

    Heros and Zeros. In what could be described as the Fire Zombi Apocalypse of July 2018, 48 hours on the clock seemed like weeks or months to many. From our Courageous Firefighters to our Looting Hoodlums the Heros and Zeros have been prevalent. Signs of Generosity abounded as regular citizens sat up tables and started B.B.Q ing at Simpson College to feed fellow displaced residents out of the goodness of their hearts.Other Businesses served free meals to evacuees to help out. I have witnessed a ton of generous Reddingites,some Compassion and Real Careing out there.

    Natural Disasters tend to bring out the Best and the Worst in People. True Character is shown or not shown when its life and death on the line. I have seen both extremes in the last 3 days that seem more like weeks.

    I have seen reports of firefighters and the chief of Police losing their own homes all the while tirelessly helping others. I have had numerous clients call asking… “What’s going on with my property there????”….can you get over there and tell me what is going on Immediately??? To which I responded….as soon as my family is SAFE…..the roads are opened back up and its safe to enter that area I will put it on my list! WTH? I thought to myself silently….to some I sent links showing the devastation….the Grandmother and the Children killed article etc…..should I have done that? I don’t know, but when you are more concerned with your raw piece of land than human life and suffering and devastation……and its ALL about You, you have a lot to learn in my opinion…..Houses and Boats and Cars can be replaced….Love ones and pets can not.

    I also recieved an email from a client in India currently on business. How are you?? How is your family? Are you safe? She did not ask about her 3 homes she owns here in Redding, she was concerned with my safety. I am currently safe I responded, just trying to get good info out to everyone with fire maps,road closures and help others right now, checking in with clients and Veteran Friends etc. Once my Family is safe and out of harms way I will check up on your westside homes when I can-but it may be awhile.She responded, No Hurry, they are just homes!

    It is a time we can come together hopefully, help each other out.Forget about our material “Stuff” and our strong Political views. We are in this thing called life and this situation together. Together we shall rise or sink. The Choice is ours.

    I have been trying to find rentals (non-existent) and housing for many clients to transition from the shelters to rentals etc. Those open to moving to outlying areas and other cities stand the best chance of finding something. I don’t work with rentals or renting clients homes out as I have never liked that part of the business ( get my plugged up toilet fixed in 20 minutes or I am suing you ) but I have had to set that aside and try to at least find “something” for clients to rent.

    It will take years to rebuild, get back to “normal” for many and move completely on with this tragedy. We will get through this! One thing is constant-Change. Stay safe everyone! Thank you, Firefighters, and to all that helped others!

    I appreciate your excellent writing Doni as always. You tend to write what many others are thinking and feeling!

    Link to a good mapping site – http://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=38af98f710d94937a61eb0789211de54&find=1350%20Buenaventura%20Blvd%2C%20Redding%2C%20CA%2096001

  34. Avatar Nancy Heggarty says:

    My Heart breaks for Redding and its families. Redding has been like a second home to me for over60 years. I pray the fire is beaten down quickly and Redding will be safe once again. God Bless you all from Reno Nevada.

  35. Avatar Bridgette Brick-Wells says:

    My heart aches for everyone there. So many dear friends have lost their homes but, thankfully, all (including my son) are safe. I’m praying for the Phoenix that will rise from Carr’s ashes.

  36. Avatar Karen C says:

    Doni, I woke up in the wee hours with a bit of a panic attack. We have been semi packed and on edge since Thursday of last week. Watching the heartbreaking reports all day long, and waiting for the news we don’t want to hear about our area on the east side has almost been more than I can handle.
    Your article was timely for me as I read your words which expressed my feelings towards this awful beast living among us. After I finished, I went on to the comments, and felt the pain for so many who are feeling just like I am
    Thank you for making life a bit easier for me at that time, I was able to get back to precious sleep for a few hours and it was much needed. God bless you for what you do. I hope you are able to get good news soon and go back to the home you so lovingly remodeled.

  37. Avatar erin friedman says:

    Beautiful piece, Doni. What I needed today.
    We were supposed to premiere a music video on Thursday – the last line of The Redding Song is “G is for the gem of Northern California – Redding, Shasta County, USA.” I still believe it. I am heartened by every gesture of kindness and generosity I read about. I believe you are right: “We know how to rise to a challenge. In fact, we’re at our very best when we’re tested.” Love and hugs.

  38. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    I used to drive several times a year from the Sacramento area to a ranch my parents and some friends owned in the Warner Mountains of Modoc County. On the way we’d take SR 299 through Round Mountain—back then it was much like the area above Shingletown on SR 44—towering pine and fir trees. Then came the Fountain Fire in 1992. That was 25 years ago, and that stretch of 299 has never looked the same.

    I feel for those who suffered property damage, but houses can be replaced in six months or so. Unless we’re very lucky and Whiskeytown NRA burnt in a mosaic pattern (and the video I’ve seen looks otherwise), that crown jewel of the Redding area will be a shadow of itself for the rest of most of our lives.

  39. Avatar Leo Chiantelli says:

    Beautifully written.. As an instructor at Shasta College for more than 30 years I have a number of friends and former students who live in the area. I have tried to contact those that I know live in the affected areas but have had little success. So worried.

  40. Avatar Patricia Sherwood says:

    Your piece brought me to tears, the first tears since this horrible tragedy began. Because up until now, the only emotion I have been able to feel is unbelievable stress. My family is safe, thank God, but our hearts break for all of those who have lost so much. Words fail. #reddingstrong

  41. Avatar Barbara Durel says:

    Doni thank you for putting into words the way I’m feeling. So traumatized, so frightened and deeply saddened at this mind blowing monstrous fire while equally inspired, connected, awestruck and deeply grateful for friends, family & community. I also ignored early suggestions to leave because I had grown complacent. Went out to dinner at Dry Creek. Then saw the bright red sky as we drove home. Walked in our door just before police knocked on our door! Stay safe everyone. Love & prayers for you all.

  42. Avatar Shasta mermaid says:

    We lost everything. We lived off of Iron Mtn. Rd. on Laurie Ann. We are new to Redding and had been in our home exactly 11 months. We are devastated and heartbroken. We have lost our history. My husband and I have been together 50 years and moved here to be close to our daughter and grandboys. We can’t stop crying. We are so sad for all our neighbors, 12 homes gone. There are no words…

  43. Avatar Kristin says:

    Thank you for placing us in the heart of Redding as we read this. My childhood home and the Home we moved my parents from just two weeks ago, Redding and it’s residents are in our constant thoughts and prayers. My parents struggle with survivors guilt and relief and gratitude as they touch base with their community back “home”. Their house in west Redding on Travona St still stands but we cannot imagine the rebuilding that will need to take place nonetheless. Stay strong and know that we are hanging on every scrap of news from the place we still have roots. We are grateful for your sharing and insight.

  44. Avatar Maureen says:

    Thoughts from the East Side:
    To quote my wonderful mom “our neighborhood looks like everyone is having a Super Bowl Party”. It’s a somber party as our homes, driveways and streets are full with family, friends and coworkers from town. We welcome you. We are happy to provide shelter and food. We all sit paralyzed together,inside out of the smoke, glued to the media trying to accept the surreal situation. I don’t know a single person who slept Thursday night. Today is a new day. A day of hope for some planes to be able to fly and FIGHT BACK this monster that is claiming our towns. It won’t claim our sense of community. Shasta county is strong.
    As we all sat down to dinner at my table we spoke of making silk out of a sows ear or (for the younger ones at the table) lemonade out of lemons. I mourn for the lost lives and my friends who have lost their homes but I know we will make that lemonade. We will.

  45. Avatar Christen says:

    The picture of the firefighters sleeping was taken by Richard Tuggle.

  46. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    People have lost homes and their lives, so it’s perhaps easy to lose sight of how stressful it is to be forced from your home. I hope you’re holding up, Doni, and thanks for this.

  47. Avatar Jim says:

    Excellent article. What you don’t know is that all this suffering and destruction from this fire was completely preventable. Waterbombers stationed at Shasta Lake would have easily killed this fire on the first day. Airtankers or water bombers are fixed-wing aircraft fitted with tanks that can be filled on the ground at an air tanker base or, in the case of flying boats and amphibious aircraft, by skimming water from lakes, reservoirs, or large rivers. Various aircraft have been used over the years for firefighting.
    Aerial firefighting – Wikipedia
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerial_firefighting Read more about it here. https://www.facebook.com/WiegandsWindow?lst=100001106441691%3A100001106441691%3A1532879359

    • Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

      Jim, when the Poudre Canyon, Colorado, fires were burning a few years ago two National Guard tankers were sitting on the tarmac at the Cheyenne airport, barely sixty miles from the fires. The federal ruling at the time stated that government planes could not be used until private resources were all in use. They were going to change that rule, apparently they didn’t.

  48. Avatar Lisa Teeter says:

    What a moving and touching article Doni. These happenings are absolutely heartbreaking. Please know that your neighbors in Glenn County are praying for your community.

  49. Avatar suzanne says:

    Santa Rosa. Yep. That’s what we kept praying this wouldn’t turn into.
    This was very well written, Doni.

  50. Avatar Janet says:

    God Bless you ALL, the country is praying for you…

  51. Richard DuPertuis Richard DuPertuis says:

    I too am numb. This is a wildfire. It’s not supposed to come into a city!

    Doni, I ached with you when you announced you had to evacuate, blind to the fate of your home. Was so glad to hear it survived.

    Thursday night, the east-most perimeter came within a mile of my home. I stood and watched trees burst into flames twice their height, then vanish in less than a minute. One at a time. One after another.

    I decided to visit family in East Redding, not knowing the fire would advance eastward not one mile more. Came back to safe but smoky home two days later.

  52. Avatar Sue Crandell says:

    Doni your exquisite piece began a conversation that became an outpouring and sharing of pain fear anger grief and, a most important, connection….really a release of the whole gambit of emotions that our community is going through. Truly a precious gift that sums up the spirit and strength of those of us who call Redding home. It’s not over but this is a good place for healing to begin. Thank you, Thank you. ANC is the best Community Center we have and we will get through this together.

  53. Steve Steve says:

    Just read your article, Doni. Your words pierced my heart with our unwelcome reality that’s breaking so many hearts. I haven’t been able to get anewscafe on my cell phone. And when I get the site on my computer, I haven’t been able to open any of the articles. I was using Firefox, so today I decided to use Google. That’s how I was able to read your gut wrenching article. While in ER from midnight to 8 am, I was awake all night and watching the news. I had no idea when I helped my friend evacuate that the fire was moving farther east into Redding. From that hospital bed those 8 hours flew by as I watched with such disbelief at what what happening. I’m so sorry for the pain you must be feeling for all you know. But I’m so happy you and your family are safe. And you took some really good pictures. Just sorry you had to take them.

  54. Thank You for the article Doni. It was a horrifying night to say the least. I was reminded of the article you wrote about our friends Kip & Annette Williams being evacuated from their home in Pahoa. It was surreal for them to be evacuated once again from their safe haven here in Redding. As the story later unfolded they heard the house they sold to move to Hawaii was burned in the Carr Fire as well. Many times they questioned their decision to leave but I think they have an answer now.
    My 16 year old grandson and a friend were visiting from San Francisco when the call came for us to evacuate our house on River Park Drive. We loaded what we could in 2 cars and a truck. He had only had a drivers license for 3 months but I handed him the keys as he typed our destination onto his cellphone just in case we got separated. We joined the gridlock from all of the neighborhoods off of Quartz Hill and beyond funneling through River Park Drive. What a time for Quartz Hill to be under construction. He really stepped up for us. I am sure he will never forget that night. We all have a story of where we were the night Shasta County was changed forever.