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Planning for the Worst May Have Saved Thousands in the Camp Fire

The city of Paradise was prepared for the Camp Fire when it ripped through the town last week, and it still wasn't enough to save everyone.
November 14, 2018, 2pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Butte County, California
Paradise, California, pictured in 2017.
Sharon Hahn Darlin

Paige St. John and Anna M. Phillips report on the emergency preparedness planning efforts of Paradise, the California foothill town recent destroyed by the Camp Fire, leaving a death toll of 48 as of this writing.

"The irony is that Paradise was one of the few Sierra slope towns built in a tinderbox that tried to change its fate," according to the article.

A decade ago, the Humboldt fire destroyed 87 homes at the edge of town, and a week later dozens of fires set off by a lightning storm threatened the community. One person died.

Residents trying to flee the 2008 fires were caught in massive traffic jams, flames burning on both sides of the road as they sat trapped in their cars. They clamored for local officials to come up with a plan.

The city did, indeed, come up with a plan, involving sequenced evacuations, conversions of streets to one-ways, and a fire drill. Phil John, chairman of the Paradise Ridge Fire Safe Council, is quoted in the article saying that work saved thousands of lives when the Camp Fire arrived.

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Published on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 in Los Angeles Times
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