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Bear Fire Survivor: Berry Creek not receiving as much help as Paradise

A Bear Fire survivor said he needs help rebuilding his home and would like more help from the county.

Posted: Mar 24, 2021 10:13 AM
Updated: Mar 24, 2021 10:57 AM

BERRY CREEK, Calif. - A Bear Fire survivor said he needs help rebuilding his home and would like more help from the county.

Bob Bitchin wants to rebuild his home in Berry Creek but said his community isn't getting as much help as Paradise after the Camp Fire.

"We've never been through this process and it's very difficult getting through this process," Bitchin said.

It has been six months since the Bear Fire destroyed Bitchin's home. Bitchin spent days clearing all the hazardous material from his property. All with one thing on his mind - building his new home.

"We've gone through the architect and then the engineer. Then we got all of that and turned it into permits. And now permitting is going over that," Bitchin said.

So far Bitchin has paid almost $5,400 in permit fees. And he is not happy about it.

"We're paying full permit fees as opposed to when the Camp Fire. Half the fees were covered by a grant by Butte Strong (fund)."

Action News Now asked David Little from the North Valley Community Foundation if they have plans to expand the Butte Strong Fund to include Bear Fire survivors.

Little sent Action News Now the following statement.

"We have so far issued more than $380,000 in grants for the North Complex Fire, and we are considering nearly $300,000 in additional grants. The list of grants issued so far is online, click here to view them. All of the grants come from donations to our Wildfire Relief and Recovery Fund, which is separate from our Camp Fire and Butte Strong funds. In other words, money donated to Camp Fire relief can only go to projects for Camp Fire survivors, and money donated to Bear Fire relief can only go to Bear Fire survivors. After the Camp Fire, Butte County and the Town of Paradise officials applied to the Butte Strong Fund for a grant to significantly reduce government fees for homeowners who want to rebuild. The Rebuild Incentive Program commitment totals $2.5 million and has helped hundreds of rebuilding residents reduce their fees. We certainly would consider another similar request from the county for homeowners rebuilding in the North Complex Fire areas."

"It would be more equitable if we had the same plan as Paradise has," Bitchin said.

While Bitchin is waiting for an answer, he is also waiting to get an ok from the county to take his trailer to his property.

"We just want to get back up there," Bitchin said.

He is hoping one day his home can look like its former state.

Action News Now called the county several times, they said, they are looking into possible opportunities to bring help for Bear Fire survivors.

Bitchin also said a representative from the Butte County Permit Center allowed him to only pay one building permit fee that covers both his home and garage.

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The threat of thunderstorms is driving high fire danger across northern California today and most of our region will be under a Red Flag Warning this afternoon and evening. Very hot and dry weather is on the way in your extended forecast, with dangerous heat projected to return this weekend.
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