A month later, we are getting a clearer understanding of the acts of heroism demonstrated during the Camp Fire in Butte County.
85 people died in the fire, most of them senior citizens.
Many residents did get out alive, due in part to dozens of citizens, acting on instinct, who put themselves in harm’s way to save others.
“You have to look out for your neighbor in that situation,” Shawn Paul said.
Shawn Paul is a maintenance worker at the Core Butte Charter School and will never forget Nov. 8.
The father of five daughters spent the first part of his morning making sure his own children and the students at his school were evacuated safely.
“Most of them had no idea what was going on,” Paul said.
Then he went and checked on the elderly at this now destroyed mobile home park.
“I went from mobile home to mobile home to mobile home to make sure I got everybody out, or at least up and moving, a lot of them couldn’t drive so I had to find neighbors that could take them,” Paul said.
By the time he finished knocking on doors, traffic out of Paradise was gridlocked.
“The couple I evacuated from the mobile home park ran out of gas, so they came with me, then I had an 87-year-old gentleman who couldn’t drive at night,” Paul said.
He and the seniors, along with about 100 other scared community members, stood by at the church parking lot next door.
“We knew we were safe because it was a big parking lot but the fire was all around us,” Paul said.
He says they were in the parking lot for about 8 hours while the fire scorched the town around it.
“The maintenance guy from the church was there with me the whole time, he helped me get snacks and he was out there fighting the flames the whole time,” Paul said.
First responders kept an eye on the group until it was safe to escort them out.
Paul says what he did was just a small part of so many courageous acts in Butte County.
“Everybody was a hero that day,” Paul said. “It should be called Paradise: Town of Heroes.”
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