On November 8th, 2018, a wildfire was spotted beneath high tension power lines on Camp Creek Road, near a small town called Pulga in Butte County, California. In less than two hours the fire had entered the ridgetop town of Paradise overtaking the population of 26,000. Traffic jammed along Skyway, the only exit route from the ridge, as residents scrambled to flee. The Camp Fire, named for its point of origin, spread at an unbelievable rate consuming 18,000 acres within eight hours, devastating the town of Paradise and the communities of Concow and Magalia. The fire burned for seventeen days, causing 85 deaths, covering an area of 153,336 acres, and destroying over 19,000 structures. It is the deadliest wildfire in California history and was the deadliest fire of the past 100 years in the United States.
This collection is made up of interviews with Camp Fire evacuees and first responders, who have graciously shared their stories.
Interviewees are social workers, artists, fire ecologists, nurses, former and current civic leaders. They were community members, all part of the fabric of a community, a tapestry we refer to as The Ridge. Prior to the fire, they lived in Paradise, Magalia, Concow, along the hilltops, and within the Butte Creek and Feather River canyons. In the aftermath of the 2018 Camp Fire, North State residents have been dispersed across California and throughout the United States. The fire has been extinguished, but events leading up to the natural disaster and its residual effects are another class of firestorm.
Oral historians who deal with trauma say that they work at the intersection between tragedy and memory. Many participants admitted to feeling better after their interviews. Several expressed hope that their story might help local governments manage disaster preparations, or help other natural disaster survivors manage their experiences.
As we approach the third anniversary of the fire, we share these stories with an eye on trauma-informed practice. Not everybody may be ready to listen, but storytelling is a way to heal and listening is a crucial element of radical empathy.
Explore the Camp Fire Oral History Project here: http://archives.csuchico.edu/digital/collection/p17133coll7/search
If you have any questions about the Camp Fire Oral History Project, please contact Stefani Baldivia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Ritchie, Donald A. Doing Oral History, Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/csuchico/detail.action?docID=1777649