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Watching the flames: Woman shares experience of Chester’s survival

When the Dixie Fire was threatening Chester, one person shared her experience while she stayed in the town.

Posted: Aug 10, 2021 12:33 AM
Updated: Aug 10, 2021 4:14 PM

CHESTER, Calif. - The Dixie Fire has destroyed communities in its path, but some were able to survive the flames. One woman shares her experience and the relief the community of Chester is now feeling.

Dawn Garofalo is one of the few who stayed behind.

“There were all these people over here watching the fire by the trees and all the sudden the sheriff came in,” Garofalo explained. “I was up there, talking with them to find out the news, and the sheriff came in and shouted over the loudspeaker, ‘Everybody out! Everybody out now!’”

But her staying in Chester wasn’t all by choice.

“He said, ‘You’ve got to leave now!’ and I said, ‘I can’t! My steering box is shot,” Garofalo said.

Instead, Garofalo set up camp far away from the trees on a dry lakebed of Lake Almanor.

But as soon as she started to see flames, she said, “This huge, black fire tornado is swirling over by the trees and it’s moving like a snake. Everywhere it lands, it lights up and it’s just going boom, boom, boom all the way down the tree line towards Chester.”

But thankfully, Chester is still standing.

The air quality is still bad and smoke is billowing out of a nearby mountainside, but according to Garofalo, this is the best Chester has looked since the fire came through the area.

And although the forest bordering Chester is charred, Garofalo is thankful to still have this town.

“You have to jump through the hoops and roll with the punches and be positive,” she said. “So, we are here. It’s been an experience.”

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Get out and enjoy this beautiful weather tonight! If you do head out and plan to stay out late, probably bring an extra later to throw on for when the sun sets as temperatures will be cooling off into the low to mid 60s for the valley by midnight and low to mid 40s by tomorrow morning.
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