PARADISE, Calif. - The familiar sign that greeted visitors and the people of Paradise may be gone for now, but one man was able to save what was left of the iconic sign.
"It's a survivor and survivors have scars," said Doug Keister, Chico author and photographer.
Keister is working with the Paradise Chamber and Town Council to save Paradise's iconic welcome sign.
"I'm going to be going up there anyway, how about I pick up the pieces of Paradise basically," Keister said.
The sign is more than just a piece of wood, it's a part of Paradise's history.
"It was 32-feet high and made out of the wood from bridge timbers that were salvaged and it was put up in 1972," he said.
To Keister, it represents Paradise's future as well.
"I think that the proper place for it is probably the Gold Nugget Museum it belongs in a museum so the public can see it and unfortunately most of the Gold Nugget Museum is burned, so at least for the time being it can't be put up," Keister said.
Keister also said that you can tell how hot the fire was because of how the sign burned.
"Aluminum melts at 1,221 degrees so this shows you how hot the fire was," Keister said.
However, every steel letter of the slogan did survive.
"So it says 'may you find' and then this huge thing 'Paradise, California' to be all its name implies," Keister said.
Keister also managed to save one of the most recognizable pieces.
"The halo, which people thought, including myself, was maybe about the size of a tire or maybe a little bigger than that, was this enormous thing," he said.
He said that the sign is more than just sign, but it's something that the people can relate to and something that can hopefully bring them closure.
"The letters can be just attached to something, they can just be put somewhere," he said. "People need things to relate to and because of the grieving process, the mourning process, it's really helpful. It's almost like when they talk about closure, you know we have the sign. You know it's still here. So it's important for people to go see it," Keister said.
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