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Camp Fire

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November 13, 2018
Edward Smith

Camp Fire in Northern California

The Camp Fire became a haunting reminder of the effect that low humidity, parched earth, and high winds have during fire season. Months after the Carr Fire destroyed over 1,600 structures and burned 229,651 acres, the even more destructive Camp Fire erupted in Feather River Canyon on November 9. It was located near Highway 70 on Camp River Road. As of Sunday, November 11, 23 individuals have died in the fire, and authorities are still searching for 100 more who are missing. As a wildfire attorney, I am well aware of the destructive force of a fire. As your neighbor in Northern California, I share your grief for those who died. I would like to offer my condolences to the families and friends of the descendants who are facing a devastating loss.

The Origin of the Camp Fire

On Thursday, November 9, at 6:31 a.m., dispatchers alerted firefighters to a fire spotted in vegetation under PG&E’s high-tension power lines west of the river. The firefighters, who responded immediately, found that accessing Camp Creek Road was nearly impossible, and this, combined with the weather conditions, led them to believe that a significant fire event was in the making. Despite calls for backup and an all-out effort to quell the fire’s advance, it reached the city of Paradise by afternoon on Thursday. There, it ravaged Paradise as most residents tried to escape with little more than the clothes on their backs. By Saturday morning, November 10, 100,000 acres had been burned, 52,000 people had been evacuated, and only 10 to 20 percent of the houses in Paradise had been spared.

Escaping the Camp Fire

People living in Paradise and nearby areas tried to escape the fire with little advanced warning. From the time it started on Camp Creek Road soon after daybreak until it enveloped Paradise hours later, residents had little time to flee. Adventist Health Feather River, a 101-bed hospital in Paradise, had only hours to evacuate patients and staff. Ambulances, police cars, and vehicles belonging to staff members were all used in the evacuation effort. By the time the Camp Fire hit Paradise, everyone at the hospital was safe. Several hours after the evacuation was completed, the hospital was destroyed.

Resident Stories

As residents tried to leave the area, they were hampered by roadway gridlock as the Camp Fire made its way across town. One person after another told of the horrifying journey to leave the city behind on roads that could not handle the increased traffic volume. Videos showed the fire lining the roadway as cars and their occupants sat waiting in a queue. Fleeing residents described the rubber around the car windows melting and trees overhead engulfed in flames, causing them to crash onto the highway. Cal Fire opened up all lanes to traffic heading north to ease the congestion. Some residents were allowed to return on Friday, November 9. By Sunday, November 11, 7,000 structures were ruined, and the fire was roughly 25 percent contained.

Watch the following video as ABC News takes a look at the Camp Fire:

What to Do After a California Wildfire

After a wildfire, there are practical steps you need to take:

  • Make sure you can safely return to your house. Asking police or fire officials before going is a good idea.
  • Look around at the ground when you get back. There may be smoldering areas of vegetation or trees.
  • Be alert for fire flare-ups in a burned area.
  • Look at your house’s roof, outside, and interior to ensure hot embers are not present.
  • Remain on the lookout for a resurgence of a California wildfire in your area.

Recovering Compensation

It is essential for those who have lost loved ones, pets, or houses in this California wildfire to receive the compensation they deserve. Filing a claim with homeowners and auto insurance companies is an excellent first step. However, your insurer may tell you that your policy does not cover certain losses or only a percentage of damages. They may also provide a quote that is considerably lower than the damages. That is where an experienced wildfire attorney can help. Besides negotiating with insurers, the attorney will be able to file claims on your behalf, investigate the damages, and ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve.

California Wildfire Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a California wildfire attorney. If you lost your possessions, your home, or someone you love, contact me at (916) 921-6400 for help. If you are in a different area code, call my toll-free line at (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. You can also contact me online at, the website I created and own, if that is more convenient for you.

I’ve helped California residents obtain the monetary damages they should receive in numerous legal issues, from car accidents and burn injuries to wrongful death cases.

I am a long-time member of the Million Dollar Advocates, a group that offers membership to trial attorneys who have won more than $1 million for a client.

When you need an attorney, you should be familiar with their practice. Learn about mine by reading client and peer reviews and how I resolved previous cases on the following pages:

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