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Paradise Lost

Paradise, California

After driving scenic route after scenic route, marveling at Earth’s splendor from sunflower field to seacoast, it’s easy to forget nature’s darker side. And not long after a natural disaster happens, most of us who are not affected understandably go back to our daily routine, perhaps rarely giving the terrible event another thought. This video essay captures a couple of hours spent in a town ravaged by fire eight weeks after the devastation ended. There are no flames, no fleeing vehicles and no interviews with survivors. This is what Paradise, California looked like on January 25, 2019, exactly two months after the Camp Fire was contained. Over 17 days, it burned more than 153,000 acres, destroying some 14,000 homes, 528 commercial buildings and nearly 4300 other structures. To date, the Camp Fire is the most destructive and expensive wildfire in California history. And it killed 85 people, making it the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century. Paradise isn’t a place to visit right now. But soon, once the town has more fully recovered, travelers should head there to enjoy the incredible canyon overlook on the west side of town. Then, get a meal or coffee, buy a shirt or in some other way help the local economy. Paradise was temporarily lost but it’s already on the mend.


Paradise is 88 miles north of Sacramento.


Welcome to Butte County Recovers is the official website for updates on Camp Fire recovery efforts. The site also gives information on volunteering and donating money or goods.

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