'Camp Fire' in Butte County Rages, Community Pulls Together to Help
Hundreds of firefighting vehicles and first responders from multiple states have converged in Northern California to battle a blaze that's scorched more than 100,000 acres and killed scores.
The Camp Fire has killed nearly 60, displaced tens of thousands and filled the sky with smoke across a considerable swath of California.
More than 600 fire engines, 75 water tenders and 103 bull dozers are spread across Butte county, according to CalFire, the agency responsible with coordinating efforts against the blaze.
Roughly 1,000 people are unaccounted for in the fire ravaging the county.
Known as the "Camp Fire" it's consumed 138,000 acres thusfar and is only 40 percent contained as of Friday morning.
Roads are closed into Paradise, a town that virtually burned to the ground during the week. Wide portions of Butte County are under evaction orders, and neighboring communities remain on high alert.
In Chico, emergency response centers have been set up in commercial parking lots.
Clothing and food is being donated to the displaced, and insurance companies have setup makeshift offices to help people file claims.
Daniel Losk of State Farm insurance was helping coordinate efforts at the company's emergency response center Friday afternoon. The company set up a heated tent in the parking lot of a defunct Sears, and was offering breathing masks, first-aid kits and power stations for charging cell phones.
State Farm's tent opened at 7 a.m. Friday morning, and operates daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
"We'll be here as long as our customers need us," said Losk, who added that the assistance tent in the parking lot may remain there for months as people attempt to put their lives back together.
Butte County's Office of Emergency Services has kept the public abreast of the latest developments, offering information and assistance on the latest evacuations, road closures and emergency shelters.
The following areas in Butte County are under evacuation orders:
- East Bound Hwy 162/Oro Quincy Hwy at Forbestown Rd east to Mountain House Road/4 Mile Ridge Road, including the communities of Berry Creek, Brush Creek, Mountain House and Bloomer Hill.
- Paradise, Magalia, Concow, Butte Creek Canyon, and Butte Valley
- Powellton zone
- Lovelock zone
- Stirling zone, Stirling City and Inskip
- North Coutelenc zone
- North Fir Haven zone
- Nimshew zone
- Carnegie/Colter zone
- South Firhaven zone
- South Coutelenc zone
- North Pines zone
- South Pines zone
- Old Magalia zone
- Lower Pentz zone
- Morgan Ridge zone
- Lower Clark zone
- Butte Creek Road
- Centerville Road
- Yankee Hill
- Morgan Ridge
- Skyway from lower Paradise to the Chico city limits
- Highway 70 from Pulga to West branch Feather River Bridge
- All of Clark Road and all of Pentz Road, south to highway 70, everything west to highway 99 and south to highway 149 including all of Butte Valley
- Shippee Road from Highway 149 to Highway 99
- Cherokee Road to Highway 70 to Lake Oroville south to Table Mountain Blvd.
- Doe Mill Road south at Village Drive is closed. Santos Ranch Road., Wilder Drive, and Autumn Lane will remain closed.
With the majority of the fire still uncontained, emergency crews admit this is only the beginning of a process with no discernible end in sight.
"We'll be here for several years working this disaster," Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said at a news conference after he toured Paradise with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and California Gov. Jerry Brown. "The infrastructure is basically a total rebuild at this point," he said. "You're not going to be able to rebuild Paradise the way it was."
Officials haven't yet determined the cause of the Camp Fire, but utility company Pacific Gas & Electric said in a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that its equipment might have sparked the blaze.
The fire is believed to have started around 6:30 a.m., on November 8.
The utility added it might not have enough insurance to cover the expected cost of the damage.
Help Reporting, Locating Missing Persons
With hundreds still missing, the Butte County Sheriff's Office has established a Missing Persons Call Center. The call center operates daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 pm. People are urged to call this number to report missing loved ones, or seek an update on their status. They can also call this number if they located someone previously reported missing.
Missing Person Call Center Phone Numbers:
Advice for Pet Owners, Those Seeking To Reunite With Lost Pets
Family pets often go missing during life-threatening emergencies, and the Butte County Office of Emergency Management suggests evacuees looking for lost pets call North Valley Animal Disaster Group at 530-895-0000 to report lost pets. Though the agency is overwhelmed with calls, the office recommends pet owners continue to call until they can get through to someone.
Butte County Office of Emergency Management offers the following tips to evacuees with family pets:
• Take your animals with you when evacuating, and make sure to bring water, food, bedding, and any containment devices necessary. If you are unable to take large animals, leave them in open pastures and leave food out. DO NOT lock them up in a barn.
- Small Animal: Small animals evacuated due to the Camp Fire can be taken to: The Chico Municipal Airport (150 Airpark Blvd., Chico)
- Large Animal: Large animals evacuated due to the Camp Fire can be taken the Butte County Fairgrounds (199 E. Hazel St., Gridley, Calif.)
- Yuba Sutter Fairgrounds: (442 Franklin Ave in Yuba City) is accepting animals for those traveling south/evacuating from the Berry Creek, Brush Creek, Mountain House and Bloomer Hill communities. (accepting pets 24-7)
How To Help
Butte County's Office Of Emergency Services is seeking monetary contributions to help those affected by the Camp Fire.
Donations can be made to one of three places:
- North Valley Community Foundation.
- The Schools Fire Relief Fund to provide a one-stop location where individuals or organizations could provide support directly to schools in Butte County. Donors can either specify a specific district or use (textbooks, clothes, etc.) for the funds or make an open donation.
- United Way of Northern California Camp Fire Fund by texting "Butte Fire" to 91999 or you can click here.