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Bring Out Your Dead

Every night at 6 PM the Sherriff of Butte County reveals the grim count of the dead discovered, so far, in the ashes of Paradise. He also reveals the latest number of known missing persons who cannot be located by family or friends.  Finally, there is the list of homes and businesses destroyed. The raging fires that destroyed Paradise utterly have passed (for now) but the search for the dead is only beginning.

Last night’s official tally was:
DEAD: 71 (all but one found inside a home.)
MISSING: 1,100
HOMES DESTROYED: 9,740 (only about 5% have been search so far)

In short, they have only begun the search for the dead. It will be some time before there is an OFFICIAL tally of the dead, but whatever that is it will always be on the low side. This is the kind of town and the kind of disaster that means five years from today hikers in the ruined but reviving forests will be stepping on skulls.

Paradise is not a town on some flat land out on the prairies or deep in the desert. Paradise is a series of cleared areas and roads superimposed on an extremely rugged terrain composed of deep, narrow ravines and high and densely wood ridges. The Skyway is fed by hundreds of paved and unpaved roads that twist and turn and rise and dip and then, at their OFFICIAL ends, run deeper still and far off the grid. If you live in Paradise you know there are hundreds of people living back up in those ravines and ridges that would be hard to find before the fire. In those places, the poor are lodged tighter than ticks.

I’ve seen, before the fire this time, people in the outback of Paradise so abidingly poor they were living in trailers from the 70s resting on cinder blocks and at most only two winters away from a pile of rust. These people would have had no warning of a fire, no warning at all. Instead of “sheltering in place” they would have been “incinerated in place.”

In the ravines and forests of Paradise, cell reception was so spotty that AT&T gave me my own personal internet driven cell-phone tower. If those off the grid in Paradise actually owned cell phones they would have been lucky to get an alert. But most of those did not own cell phones, and landlines didn’t run that deep in the woods. When the fire closed over them they would have had no warning. No warning until the trailer melted around them. And then there was, out behind but still close to their trailer, their large propane tank.

How many bodies will be found in the pyre of Paradise? Right now nobody knows for sure.  Nobody will ever know for sure. In five years from today, somewhere in the reviving forest of Paradise, some hiker is going to step on a skull. He won’t be the only one.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ghostsniper November 17, 2018, 9:00 AM

    Gerard, any issues with scavengers rooting through the ashes?
    Shoot em on sight.

  • John Condon November 17, 2018, 9:50 AM

    Nothing but white ash.

    The word ‘incinerated’ comes to mind. 🙁

  • TN Tuxedo November 17, 2018, 10:00 AM

    Nuclear annihilation in slow motion.

  • Elmo November 17, 2018, 12:13 PM

    Thank you for the update. The numbers of missing, homes lost and victims are staggering.
    Prayers to all.

  • Kerry November 17, 2018, 3:17 PM

    I did not know about people living that close to the poverty line or off the grid, as you described, in and around Paradise. I really don’t know what to say that would add anything, except to express my horror. Desolation is total and complete in those images and in your descriptions.

  • Jewel November 17, 2018, 3:35 PM

    The total destruction of buildings while trees and stop lights and green grass survived made me think of a neutron bomb detonating.

  • John Condon November 17, 2018, 6:12 PM

    President Donald J Trump is apparently visiting Paradise (Lost) today.

  • Nori November 17, 2018, 7:09 PM

    Paradise, Lost. Milton’s version had apples too.

    The drone footage is eerie, and mesmerizing. Otherworldly. American Pompeii.

  • Patvann November 17, 2018, 7:12 PM

    If I think too much, I shudder about how many victims I’m looking through when I look up at the blood-red sundown behind their dispersed smoke and ash. The fear and hopelessness of their last seconds is too much to ponder.
    A pall seems to have covered central CA. Even the birds have gone silent down here in Campbell.

  • Casey Klahn November 17, 2018, 10:12 PM

    Hard to look at.

    Possibly the only thing the off gridders had would’ve been the sense God gave our pioneer fore bearers. You know the weather and you look at the sky. But, you’re right: many would’ve perished. We have possibly the biggest percentage of off gridders anywhere in my rural county (Eastern Washington). Most who try it usually don’t last one winter because maintained roads turn out to be PFC (pretty f-ing critical) and these people, many of them druggies and outlaw types, will buy cheap property but not consider everything they’ll need to make it work.

    My home is the last on-grid home in the canyon I’m on. I watch the winter festivities and shake my head. Anyway, I will say the ones who make it are not normal people – they are very hardy.

    Then, there are squatters. Those are the worst, and my opinion is when you live by the sword, you die by it, too.

    But, all are God’s children. I wonder what that’s like, in Chico? The mighty and the poor all sort of leveled and equally miserable. Everyone deserves aid, and I hope it flows. Listening to Trump, today, I actually got the impression the federal govt. will come in and help California unfuck the forests. 30 years ago, snags were cleared as a matter of policy, and logging was maintenance and safety as well as commerce. I say that coming from a logging family and community. I was looking at Jerry Brown and he was basically a bitch whose number had been called. What enviro shit could he possibly say to defend contemporary forest policies?

    Ok. I’ve said too much, I know.

    God bless the community around Chico and here’s hoping the fire is contained pronto.

  • Casey Klahn November 17, 2018, 10:24 PM

    OMFG. I just went to the AP story on the Trump visit, and the reporters and some were going on about global warming.

    Now I’m glad I brought up forest management. These people need a kick in the nuts because they have no brains to think with. Warming did not bring conflagration to California. It was partly an act of God, and partly mismanagement. Disaster is somewhat avoidable if you manage your resources.

  • Dave smith November 18, 2018, 5:09 AM

    What about the cadavers/ bones? Everyone who is clamoring to return to the area, what are they prepared to do when they uncover a remains? The state, county and other officials WON’T be able to respond quickly enough or to the returnees liking, of that you can be sure. A rush to return to” muh property” will create a lot of misery for famlies of missing and a list of MIA.

  • Snakepit Kansas November 18, 2018, 6:10 AM

    For the win, Casey said ” I was looking at Jerry Brown and he was basically a bitch whose number had been called.”

  • Tom Hyland November 18, 2018, 6:22 AM

    Very few people want to consider this… the fires were set on purpose… and PG&E is owned and operated by the Rothschild clan… those same folks who are the Federal Reserve and who actually OWN EVERYTHING. Since March 9, 1933, when Roosevelt declared the United States bankrupt, the Fed has held our country is total receivership. In a typical bankruptcy you are insolvent until the debt is paid. The U.S. Citizen has been tasked to pay back the debt, but our money, printed like confetti by the Fed, does not discharge a debt… it compounds it. Slavery perfected. Now we are ALL down on the plantation picking cotton. Gerard, please watch this video. What just happened to Paradise is an exact repeat of what happened to Santa Rosa. This is evil shit and a totally planned operation.

  • Hangtown Bob November 18, 2018, 7:11 AM
  • ghostsniper November 18, 2018, 7:15 AM

    Tom opened that 6-pak of whoop-ass.
    Strange daze.
    Avoid crowds.

  • Casey Klahn November 18, 2018, 7:20 AM

    My comments are all based on my personal knowledge of the forests and my own observations with my own 2 eyes. I know nothing about conspiracy or who owns whom or what.

    Brown’s forest policies suck; that is a no brainer.

    Meanwhile, in Seattle, whale habitat needs *saving* from the hydro dams. You know the ones: they supply surplus power to California. No conspiracy, just the newspaper headlines.

  • Uncle Mikey November 18, 2018, 7:29 AM

    I remember when you could get this kind of information by reading a newspaper. Bless you Gerard

  • Rob De Witt November 18, 2018, 7:48 AM

    Casey –

    Right on, brother. The view from Reality.

    Meanwhile Jerry Brown’s pet Bullet Train project is projected to cost California taxpayers, more than half of whom oppose it, more than 100 BILLION dollars. Then there are all those vibrant brown people you see at the MediCal and welfare offices driving new trucks.

  • Vanderleun November 18, 2018, 8:20 AM

    You got a point about the trucks. I notice that too. Lots of folks from the south around selling bags of oranges out of new trucks. Gotta be selling a lot of oranges.

  • Dennis November 18, 2018, 8:39 AM

    I fought fires for over thirty years as an employee of the U.S. Forest Service, rising to the level of Division/Group Supervisor on large wildfires. Reading Gerald’s description of forest conditions around Paradise prior to the fire is an eerie account of a catastrophe about to happen. Eerie because it has happened over and over throughout the west over the past 30 years. This has nothing to do with global warming; it has to do with people unwilling to learn the lessons of the past. These are fire adapted ecosystems and, left to natural processes, will burn regularly. Everything organic on these sites is potential fuel, including human habitations, and if not maintained properly with fire in mind they will eventually burn.
    I urge you to read the linked article describing the destruction in Los Alamos, N.M. during the Cerro Grande fire in 2000. The pictures and descriptions, as I said, are eerily reminiscent of the current conditions in Paradise.

  • Rob De Witt November 18, 2018, 9:01 AM


    I saw this in Santa Rosa fifteen years ago when I hit bottom with a broken collarbone. The MediCal offices were filled with Spanish-speakers and droves of kids. They’d been dropped off by guys driving new trucks filled with gardening equipment – there was a line outside the office every morning.

    Cutting grass pays real good when it’s all in cash, you don’t pay taxes on it, and your wife gets welfare checks from Aid to Dependent Children. I shoulda thought of that myself.

  • John the River November 18, 2018, 9:18 AM

    If it’s climate change, then why didn’t the privately maintained forests burn?

  • Dennis November 18, 2018, 9:49 AM

    I guess my previous comment disappeared. Suffice to say that I have 30+ years of fighting forest fires and ended at a fairly high level of responsibility. What happened in Paradise is neither new nor unexpected and has nothing to do with “global warming”
    This evaluation of the aftermath of the Cerro Grande Fire in Los Alamos 18 years ago is a case in point. The pictures and comments are eerily reminiscent.


  • Nori November 18, 2018, 10:04 AM

    Patvann brought up a disturbing dose of reality. All those cremains are hanging in the smoky air everyone in and out of Paradise is now breathing. Like 9/11, with less concrete dust. Very harsh.
    I’d like to think that Brown & Newsome have learned something from this horrific event, but I know that’s nonsense. Brown has the vaporized blood of every victim on his hands, due to his insane policies. Marxist Democrats are killers.

  • Dennis November 18, 2018, 10:27 AM

    O.K., I guess I don’t know how to add a link here. I would advise readers to query for Jack Cohen and Los Alamos Fire for his evaluation of the Cerro Grande fire there in 2000

  • Tom Hyland November 18, 2018, 12:35 PM

    Here’s the link to the Jack Coen article regarding the Los Alamos fire. I remember this catastrophe very well… could see it from my place which is 45 miles southeast. The US Forestry chief at the time, can’t remember his name, will always be compared to the guy that crashed the Exxon Valdez, decided “Let’s do a control burn.” We were in the midst of the worst drought ever. Hasn’t been that dry since. It was freaking hot and WINDY. Very windy. Let’s do a “control” burn. I hope he thinks about it daily.

  • Jack November 18, 2018, 1:03 PM

    I read an article this morning in which Al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for these fires as a counter to US operations in the Middle East. That heinous bunch of demons was probably working in conjunction with Jerry Brown and his forest management flunkies.

  • Dennis November 18, 2018, 8:34 PM


    Thank you for posting the link. I fought fire for over thirty years and I’m always impressed with how little we’ve learned–or a least how little of that knowledge we’ve applied going forward. It is eerie how the pictures of Los Alamos so closely match those in Paradise and how closely they tell the same story.

  • Gordon Scott November 19, 2018, 4:57 AM

    Interesting about the Los Alamos fire. I have thought about ways to avoid a home burning in such a situation. A metal roof helps some, and apparently so does not having gutters, and so does keeping the pine needles and such detritus away from the house.

    It would seem that it also pays to have neighbors that do the same. That’s trickier.

  • CK November 19, 2018, 5:45 AM

    Five years after a smaller but similar fire north of Paradise destroyed mountain homes few have rebuilt.
    The link shows what it looks like now. The attempt to reforest the area suffered because of the drought. And now the county is closing down and abandoning access roads, including the one to Mr. Andreini’s new home in the desolated area.

  • ghostsniper November 19, 2018, 6:50 PM

    @Gordon, I did just that, when we built our Florida home.
    There were no neighbors but there were lots of Malaleuca (paper) trees that will go up like torches in the dry season. Our house had a 24,000 gallon pool, a well, a landscape sprinkler system, a ribbed metal roof, and gutters. All the exterior walls were concrete CBS, block with stucco.

    During construction I installed 2 high velocity industrial grade 360 degree pop-up sprinklers on the roof peak. They were installed just behind the roof peak and not visible from the street. When they popped up they were visible from the street. In the event of a fire I would throw a lever on the pool pump that would direct the flow of water to those 2 sprinklers on the roof. Keeping the roof wet would prevent the heat on the metal from transferring to the wood plywood sheathing and trusses. The gutters would collect the water and direct it back to the pool. A lot of the sprinkler water would exceed the roof lines and wet the yard hopefully staunching the fire from burning the grass and up to the house. With just 24k gallons of water this method would not work indefinitely but I believed it would work until the trees close by had burned out. Paper trees burn fast and hot. When the house was completed I did a test run of the system and it worked flawlessly. Fortunately I never had to rely on it. After moving in I chainsawed all the paper trees within 100 feet or so and the fire thing was never an issue.

    The 2 sprinkler heads cost about $200 each and the PVC piping to connect them to the pool system was maybe another $100. So about $300 and my time to put it together, for some peace of mind. Well worth it at 10X the cost.

  • Dennis November 20, 2018, 7:34 AM

    I see all of my comments were waiting to be published. Please excuse the repeats.
    I like your sprinkler setup (especially the return to the pool). Did you have some sort of non-electrical backup (gasoline or propane) for when the power burned out? I would expect a buried (ie. perhaps a concrete block vault) pump and fuel with an automatic switch would work for this application. I think you were well set in terms of the time a fire would take to move through. Especially since you thought to remove close fuels.

  • ghostsniper November 20, 2018, 10:49 AM

    @Dennis, we did have a generator, but our electric service was underground from a pole more than 2 blocks away so burning it out was unlikely. I know, I know, Murphy all the way. In spite of my planning, the way my luck is, if I would have needed the thing there would have been failure from 12 different directions….

    FWIW, during hurricane Charlie when our power was out for 8 days that pool was valuable, and the well. I ran the generator 2 hours on and 4 hours off. That kept the pool clean and the well system charged. I had also installed a small (5k btuh) window ac unit in a spare bedroom, which my wife and I slept in. That 8 days in the middle of summer was still pretty miserable. The hurricane had torn a lot of the screen out of the pool enclosure so the mosquito’s had a direct line to us. I patched it up the best I could but those things are nefarious. Then a month later hurricane Ivan came to town for a repeat performance, but not as bad.

  • Patvann November 20, 2018, 1:44 PM

    My GAWD do I despise those who push this CONSPIRACY!!!!(@11) SHITE.

    Yes Tom…That would be YOU. I’ve watched you for a long time. A VERY long time…You are not conducive toward anything close to what we need here right now.
    You and your willfully ignorant ilk make me want to wretch. If only you all would spend as much effort here in reality-ville, that you do in each others imaginations. Hint: Your first mistake is to assume our EVIL(!) government is both capable, and silent enough to pull off your “Spector-Level” operation. Stop watching so many movies, and wishing you were in them. -I’ll be over here waiting for your eventual multiple paragraphs of this calamity, and how it ties into your 9-11 conspiracy bullshit. In the end, I’m sure your pathologically-imagined Magical Jews will be Found to be at Fault. -And you will be satiated with thine “clicks”.
    Take your leave us sir…Kindly refrain from darkening our doorway. Reality is happening here…Do at least TRY to pretend that you actually give a shit, and maybe ask your many followers to actually HELP, instead of making it about you….and your insanity….and your clicks….

    (To my honored host, pardon my obtuseness, and may you strike down mine comment, if thou hast judged not worthy.)

  • Tom Hyland November 20, 2018, 6:08 PM

    Patvann… I bet you think Oswald did it.

  • ghostsniper November 20, 2018, 7:40 PM

    “Your first mistake is to assume our EVIL(!) government is both capable…”

    No conspiracy necessary.
    For many decades the gov’t has depended on the willful ignorance of the herd so as to conduct it’s EVIL(!) business right out in the open.

  • revjen45 November 21, 2018, 7:02 AM

    To quote one Ralph J. Gleason:
    “No matter how paranoid you are what they are actually doing is worse than you can possibly imagine.”

  • Patvann November 21, 2018, 9:06 AM

    Perfect and predictable response Tom….Yeah….Well, now that you mention it, Oswald would be as good as “suspect” for starting the fire as any of the “reasons” you came up with…I have PROOF that Ozzy-buddy was NOT killed, after he didn’t kill Kennedy, but was held in stasis until needed for an arson job so that a train track can get built!
    -If you doubt me, you’re probably part of the coverup, and I should now watch my back for the inevitable assassins coming my way.
    Until then, I’ll be with my brother, son, and nephews volunteering to comb through ash to find bodies. We start Friday morning, if you want to help us.

  • Tom Hyland November 21, 2018, 11:15 AM

    My question flew right over your head, Patvann, obviously. Regarding Oswald I was referring to November 22, 1963. I wasn’t inferring that Oswald ignited the Camp Fire. Most folks who think Oswald “did it” do not believe there could ever be such a human behavior called conspiracy…. which is when people in positions of power invent evil plans of which the end result is difficult to lay blame. These conspirators talk among themselves, THAT is essential, they don’t do interviews with main stream news media.

  • Patvann November 21, 2018, 11:23 AM

    I knew exactly who Ozzy is, and what you were inferring…I simply refused to go down your rabbithole, and chose instead to mock you…Sorry if that went over your pointy tin-foiled head.

  • ghostsniper November 21, 2018, 12:10 PM

    “I simply refused….”

    See what I mean?
    Thinking is SO hard, dontcha know?

  • Lynn Wood November 22, 2018, 9:41 AM

    Thank You.
    Burnt out also.
    God Bless all.

  • Lynn Wood November 22, 2018, 9:55 AM

    Many will not know that many of the green appearing conifers or the leaved trees were flash dried, desiccated by the heat of the fire, the needles and leaves frozen in the position the wind left them. The fire was so intense with many local vortices (columns of fire tornadoes) that much that burned was incinerated to ash. The ghastly work of trying to find human remains at times consists of sifting ash to find teeth, all else of the body incinerated. A person without teeth may have left no trace of physical remains.
    The post by Dennis best describes the physical factors. It was but a fuel dump waiting for a spark. The practical measures that could have been taken to manage the fuel load, and the enforcement of regulatory oversight to prevent the State of California’s greatest proven arsonist were not taken.
    This completely aside from the theoretical argument over whether Man is driving climate change, not that such argument excuses us from abusing, polluting, fouling, and destroying our only known physical home.

  • Melissa Birch November 22, 2018, 12:18 PM

    There are a lot of people living off the grid throughout California, many involved in the Marijuana trade. Here throughout Humboldt County is the same situation, hundreds perhaps thousands of people living off in the woods, clandestinely and secretly without any form of communication and fire protection
    Scary and depressing

  • Vanderleun November 22, 2018, 5:31 PM

    I have to call this one PatVann for the win no matter what sort of Rothschild rutting in the ashes of the Kennedy shooting may take place on the fringes of myth.

  • Tom Hyland November 23, 2018, 7:16 AM

    Myths are usually overruled by scientific fact… that’s if the believer awakes from his dream. Nobody could ever repeat the mythical performance of Oswald in Dallas. And these California fires are beyond belief that poor forest management is to blame. The conversation continues. Maybe not here but elsewhere people are gathering science and facts I can’t quite shrug off….

  • Tom Hyland November 23, 2018, 8:08 AM

    For the sake of convenience, I link for you the “engineered wildfires” portion of Dane Wigington’s website. A fascinating conversation between Wigington and next-governor Newsom is repeated. If anyone watched the Greg Hunter/Wigington interview I linked above, the geoengineeringwatch.org website is a ponderous collection of data.

  • Patvann November 25, 2018, 6:53 PM

    Dane Wigington…Wow….Now THERE’S a man with ALL the answers… Maybe it was the CONTRAILS from the 100,000 airplane flights-a-day that set the fire! (AFTER Oswald jumped out of that ONE plane with the 200,000cash….AFTER he changed his name…..AFTER Nixon told him to., but BEFORE Nixon turned the Southern Dems into Racist Republicans in order to vote in Nixon again, but AFTER we went off the gold standard….AND convinced the 2018 Dems into setting fires where old people live with laser-beams from the cloud-machines, for a train that isn’t going there…)

    WAIT!!! All of this might explain why Brown has been Governor through this AND the malathion spraying in the 80’s!!!

    Damn Illuminati!!

    (I’ll stop now. Thank you all for tolerating my sardonic rantings. Back to digging tomorrow.)

  • Tom Hyland November 26, 2018, 5:52 PM

    It’s global warming, Pat… global warming. Feeling better now? Back on your knees.