Reflections in a Fire

•Looters … go straight to hell.

•Standing with neighbors watching a massive wall of flames from a nearby subdivision.

•Evacuate now or wait for orders…there’s no easy answer. The heart says stay. The mind says get out now.

•The fire official, who lost his home, trying to comfort others who lost their homes…so gracious.

•The young reporter travelling from fire site to fire site growing in her craft as we watched.

•Some businesses giving away face masks…others charging more. Move over looters.

•The ability of people faced with devastation to put one foot in front of the other.

•The instant generosity of those opening their homes to others.

•Sorting photos not seen in 20 years…a nervous way to pass the time waiting the next evacuation.

•Reducing your possessions to the backseat of a car…if you had time. Otherwise grabbing a couple of things on the way out the door…wallet and spare eyeglasses?

•The despair of the destruction and the relief of being safe with those you love.

•The elation if your home is still standing…the guilt if your neighbor’s isn’t.

•Fire so destructive that entire houses are reduced to foot-high piles of ashes.

•Adjusting to wearing a mask for the simplest things.

•Waking to an orange sun then settling into a day of gray overhead and 100 plus heat.

•Desperate for information…

•Appreciative to the local media’s amazing efforts, in spite of their personal losses.

•To the wonderful government official who went into work at a dangerous time so she could post a list of important documents to take with us.

•The gratitude from deep within for those who fight these vicious fires… to call them brave is to understate.

•How do you ever thank those who gave their lives trying to protect us?

•The death of the woman and two small children broke our hearts.

•Awe of the cooperation of all the public agencies helping us through this nightmare.

•The daily instructions to the fire crews, helping us stay involved with the daily objectives.

•Our friends, fighting to save their homes, sometimes cutting it too close.

•Repeating over and over that things can be replaced…but seeing the loss of a lifetime accumulation still hurts like hell.

•The realization that in the worst of circumstances, we are again at our best. For every person who (mostly out of fear) puts others at risk, there are hundreds keeping in control…to better help themselves, friends and strangers.

•The waiting…to get back in our homes.

•The waiting…fire season isn’t even here yet.

•Put aside the decisions to move away, rebuild or replace for another day. For today, offer comfort to the person next to you.

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Doug Mudford
is a lawyer and partner at Barr & Mudford, with an emphasis on serious personal injury. He may be reached at Barr & Mudford, 1824 Court St., Redding, (530) 243-8008, or
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23 Responses

  1. Dearest Doug,
    You made me cry. (That happens a lot lately … not you specifically making me cry …) Thank you for expressing what so many of us are feeling and thinking.

    • Avatar Doug Mudford says:

      Thank you for allowing me an outlet. When I’m at a loss for words, it sometimes helps to write. Whether I get something worthwhile or toilet paper is irrelevant…it’s just the activity. Cherry says you and I can’t play together if I make you cry.

  2. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Oh Doug, now I can add your post to the eloquence of Doni, Matt, RV, and Shelly. Glad to have you back; double glad that you are safe.

  3. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Some of the gorgeous, rambling mid-century houses in Sunset Terrace are gone. I hope they’re replaced with houses that are in keeping with that neighborhood’s character, but you never know.

    • Steve, didn’t you have a house up there? (This is the new nervous way of asking, “Did your house survive?)

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        It survived……or so I hear, since they haven’t opened up the neighborhood yet. The house across the street apparently burned down.

    • Avatar Doug Mudford says:

      I agree totally. I’ve tried to move to Sunset Terrace several times but my availability of income never matched up with the availability of housing. I looked at one that was huge by my standards, inappropriate for my needs and required 100% renovation. God, I loved that house.

  4. Avatar Richard Goates says:

    You captured it, Doug! Really I can only add a great big Thanks to All the Firefighters and Personnel and people helping out. It is during the most trying of times that True Character is shown! I have seen many dropping off clothing, many organizations standing up and donating and overall much more support and generosity than looting. The Contrasts!

    • Avatar Doug Mudford says:

      Richard…there is so much more good than bad. It’s what makes it so jarring when some idiot loots then demands the hospital treat him because he got burned. I wanted to represent the hospital for free for not treating him but I was told I should be more forgiving…nah the offer still stands.

  5. Avatar Janis says:

    Thank you Doug, reflections of another fire survived… My family survived the Fountain Fire and the Carr Fire has made fresh memories. I grieve again for such a loss as these.

  6. Avatar Liz says:

    This is absolutely the best piece I’ve ever read on this site or the local newspaper. Best wishes to everyone in the Redding community going forward.

  7. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    Superb synopsis.
    Thank you

  8. Avatar Connie Koch says:

    Every single word…EVERY single word makes you stop and think and reflect and somehow find a way to be thankful for even the smallest of blessings. Thank you Doug! And thank you to ALL of the first responders, firefighters, law enforcement, national guard, utility workers, support services staff and personnel, local businesses and everyone else out there who is trying to help where they can. #ReddingStrong

  9. Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

    Thank you from me, too. As everyone has said, you so perfectly captured the highs, the lows, the traumas and the overwhelming gratitude we feel. Thank you, and Amen!

  10. Greg Greenberg Greg Greenberg says:

    You did a great job putting in words what I have been feeling. Well written.

  11. Avatar Sharonmarie says:

    I’ve seen a lot more words written about this catastrophe, but your one or two liners really give us the picture…and the emotion. I’m in Weaverville and dreading the first trip over Buckhorn to Redding. We have endured years of roadwork with hours long delays on 299. Now that beautiful drive will be an awful reminder of fear and loss. Somehow we’ll all go on, and I hope the kindness and strength of this past week will survive, too. Thanks for your insight.

  12. AJ AJ says:

    EXACTLY! Doug, what you expressed was simply, and eloquently . . . and spot on!! I responded early this (Wed.) morning on RVs article. . . . . It disappeared into the ether. So, I’ll say again, a little of what I expressed this morning.

    I think there is a great portion of our population that are dealing with what I remember described during the 9/11 crisis, as “emotional overload,” or “emotion burnout!” That last term seems cruelly appropriate. Dealing with survivor’s guilt because, like you said, I have a house to come home to and many of my friends do not. I know that compared to the hurricanes in Haiti or genocide in Rawanda, or lava flow in Hawaii what we experience is small, or at least medium sized potatoes. . . . the difference being that this fire is HERE, up close and spit in our eyes, personal. Makes me want to spit back!!

    Thank you for expressing what many of us are thinking and feeling. “God bless us everyone.”

  13. Avatar Janine Hall says:

    And now we the people of Redding can use our talents to help. What ever your talent is. I am feeling so grateful for surviving thus far. Blessings to everyone.

  14. Avatar Eleanor Townsend says:

    Your post is somehow reassuring, Doug. So many of us feeling the same way. Thank you for coming back to ANC at this particular time.

  15. Mistress of the Mix Mistress of the Mix says:

    Damn Doug, you just gave me pause. “Fire season isn’t even here yet.” Ugh.