BREAKING NEWS CAL FIRE saves dog on Miocene Canal Full Story

6 months after the Camp Fire: A different town

Tim and Jean Thomason, residents of Paradise, have learned that while their house may have survived, the life they knew before Nov. 8 is gone.

Posted: May 9, 2019 2:10 PM
Updated: May 9, 2019 2:11 PM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - Work is just beginning on rebuilding the homes and businesses destroyed by the Camp Fire flames, but what about those whose homes did not burn? They are the lucky ones, right?

Tim and Jean Thomason, who learned that their home survived the flames while watching live Camp Fire coverage on Action News Now, six months later, they are still grateful.

But reality has tempered their joy, just a bit.

Three days after the Camp Fire, Action News Now Anchor Alan Marsden took a go-pro camera to Paradise, hoping to provide answers even if only randomly to at least a few people, desperate to learn the status of their homes.

"The biggest thing that we were having to deal with was, 'do we have a house or don't we?" Tim said. 

Tim and Jean were watching the coverage. 

"And you said something like 'I'm standing just below Bille Road and Sawmill' and I thought, 'holy Toledo that's where we live," Tim said. “And the mountain of stress disappeared and what a debt of gratitude we owe you."

Now, six months later and back in their Sawmill Road home, Tim and his wife Jean have learned that while their house may have survived, the life they knew before Nov. 8 is gone.

Tim and Jean said this is not the town they moved into.

"Items are missing. Let's start with restaurants. Not that Paradise as we knew it was loaded with three star restaurants. But at least there was a place to go, get out of the house, relax, so and so forth."

The couple is learning to cope with the changes.

"You just get used to it," Jean said. "You make do."

However, the community that they have been living in is completely different. 

"Friends are missing," Tim said. "Our neighbor across the street has decided he's not coming back and has moved away."

And then there's the issue of the water.

"Ever taken a shower with bottled water?" Jean said, "or cold water in the wintertime?"

It’s not safe to drink or bath in.

Still, Tim and Jean remain positive and thankful. However, it doesn't mean they've never taken a moment to consider: what if?

"Would it have been better for the house to burn down?" Tim said. "In a New York minute, I'd say yes and absolutely not. It would have made life a lot easier. Here's the check. There's no question about it. It's over. Now at least you've got a semi-blank slate."

But when the Thomasons think of the irreplaceable family treasures they would have lost, they remain grateful their home was spared.

"It's better than being homeless," Jean said. "And we have many things to be thankful for."

Six months after the Camp Fire, nearly nine out of every 10 pre-Nov. 8 residents are living somewhere other than Paradise.

The population was about 26,500 before the Camp Fire. It’s estimated the current population is around 3,000.

Additionally, the population of Magalia is down by 30% and 70% of the homes in the Concow and Yankee Hill areas were destroyed.

Chico
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 64°
Oroville
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 64°
Paradise
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 64°
Chester
Partly Cloudy
67° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 67°
Red Bluff
Partly Cloudy
67° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 67°
Willows
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 64°
It’s Saturday!! The weather is looking good for the final day of the weekend! Tonight will look very similar to what we saw last night, temperatures in the upper 30s to low 40s with a mostly clear sky.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events