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Our Future After the Fire: Paradise business moves to Oroville

A paradise business burned by the Camp Fire is making a fresh start with a relocation to Oroville

Posted: Aug 30, 2019 8:33 AM

OROVILLE, Calif. – Anyone who owns their own business knows there are few moments of free time. That changed for one Paradise business as a result of the Camp Fire. The owners had a nine-month, and very unwelcome break.


Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough spent time with the owner of a business who is now recovering and making a new start in Oroville.


It was the start of a regular work day for Jeff Sheppard, the owner of Ridge Transmissions, when he took a break from the gears and grease to sit down and talk about his 35-year journey. The discussion covered Sheppard’s personal experiences of building, losing, then rebuilding his business and what he has learned about work, what is important and the community.


Sheppard says he moved into Paradise in late 1979 and started a business with a partner. Then several years later in 1985, he opened Ridge Transmissions. He says he had a great business for many years which included great customers, whom he misses. He says it was devastating to everyone to lose Paradise, which he describes as a beautiful town.

The morning of the Camp Fire, Sheppard says he and his crew saw the fire coming and saw embers hitting the parking lot. At that moment, he says he thought the entire town might ‘go.’


Months later, once all the damage was assessed, Sheppard said he thought there was a chance of reopening business in Paradise because long-time customers would return. But then he says he realized, there were no people to support a business. He says state clean-up crews advised it would take months, if ever, to clean up the property.


Sheppard says he sometimes drives through Paradise. He says it hurts his heart to move through what is left of the town.
The next challenge was to decide what to do. Sheppard says an opportunity then emerged: a business in Oroville came up for sale; a business similar to his own.


“It was a major blessing. Braun’s Automotive was available for sale; to take over a business and we combined the shop. It is a major blessing to be able to come back to work and take care of people,” said Sheppard. “My mechanics and technicians are back and able to make a living to support their families.”

Sheppard says one of his favorite aspects of the business is working on and fixing old cars. He says, “You can’t beat the good old days and that’s part of us. We enjoy fixing up old cars. Most of all we like to make customers happy.”

Sheppard is currently working on a 1967 Skylark convertible for customer Mark Dolan, who traveled from Concow for the work. He too was impacted by the Camp Fire. He says focusing on converting his car’s engine and upgrading to a new turbo-400 transmission, has been a bright spot in his life since the Camp Fire.


He says he loves hearing the sound of the engine and knowing the strength of the horse-power. He describes the feeling he gets when the motor starts, as ‘giddy,’


That is the satisfaction Sheppard says he is looking forward to bringing back to customers and making new friends in Oroville. And for others who are still deciding whether to rebuild a business or move on in the aftermath of the Camp Fire, he has this advice:
“Be strong. We have all been devastated by this trauma, of losing our town. Our hearts are always going to hurt. But try and be strong. Put your head up. There is so much support out there; so much love and wonderful good people here in Northern California. We are going to be okay.”

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 541339

Reported Deaths: 10021
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2012004869
Riverside39741770
Orange38711697
San Bernardino34635490
San Diego31127583
Kern21724152
Fresno16625157
Alameda12884206
San Joaquin12119192
Santa Clara11336196
Sacramento10544155
Tulare10334196
Imperial9601240
Stanislaus9408151
Contra Costa8532134
Ventura795379
San Francisco722863
Santa Barbara665268
San Mateo5891120
Marin519978
Monterey512035
Merced485562
Kings445356
Solano395939
Sonoma320842
Madera220836
San Luis Obispo204716
Placer203920
Yolo166042
Santa Cruz12134
Butte10608
Napa10259
Sutter8936
El Dorado7161
San Benito6994
Lassen6330
Yuba5724
Shasta4119
Mendocino36310
Colusa3614
Glenn3523
Nevada3211
Humboldt2804
Tehama2711
Lake2122
Amador1560
Mono1531
Tuolumne1472
Calaveras1361
Del Norte900
Siskiyou900
Inyo841
Mariposa602
Plumas340
Trinity50
Modoc40
Sierra30
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Chico
Few Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 88°
Oroville
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 87°
Paradise
Few Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 88°
Chester
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 80°
Red Bluff
Clear
98° wxIcon
Hi: 100° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 98°
Willows
Few Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 98° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 88°
Slightly warmer but mostly below average temperatures, and the potential for mountain thunderstorms are on the way in your Friday forecast. Get ready for much hotter temperatures on the way for your weekend.
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