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The Paradise Fires and the Immediate Repercussions of Climate Change

A case submitted by

Delaney Simchuk

My name is Delaney and I am sharing my personal experience with the fire in Paradise, CA that devastated an entire city.  

In November, 2018, I was away at college in the fall of my sophomore year. I received a text from my dad with a picture of the skies of Chico, my hometown, dark and filled with ash. He explained to me that a fire had started in Paradise, the town right next to us, and it was only getting worse. I was immediately terrified. Half of the kids at my high school were from Paradise, my mom's partner lived in Paradise, my sister's boyfriend lived in Paradise.  

Tragically, my mom's partner's mom was currently completely incapacitated when the fire started. His mother had been staying with him at his house in Paradise and he had been caring for her full-time. When the fire started, he made the quick decision to move himself and his mom to my mom's house in Chico, farther away from the fire. But the situation escalated quickly and soon my mom, on the outskirts of Chico, also got told to evacuate. My mom was then faced with the horrible decision between risking the fire reaching her home and forcing her partner's dying mother to evacuate under an emergency situation. These impossible decisions were all coming during the weeks of the Camp fire. Families had to run for their lives. People left their animals behind and hoped they got out.  

The fire was finally contained November 25th. I arrived home in December and my family and I went my sister's boyfriend's home, which by a miracle survived the fire. My parents had already been, but I was heartbroken but what I saw. The Camp fire destroyed 18,000 buildings and 14,000 homes. The entire town was covered in ash, and the term "burned to the ground" took on a new meaning for me. Never had I so clearly witnessed the terror of climate change and the devastation is causes. I am proud to say that Chico, my hometown, did everything we could to welcome the citizens of Paradise into our town. Our high school hosted a clothes drive to donate all of our extra clothing to victims of the Camp fire who had lost everything.  

I had always considered myself an environmental advocate, but it wasn't until the Paradise fire that I realized how current the consequences will be if change does not happen soon.


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