Death Toll Increases as Camp Fire Continues to Grow

Deadliest Wildfire On Californian Record


Noah Berger

Buildings burnt down by Camp Fire(Photo courtesy of AP)

Wayne Chan, Editor-in-chief


During this event, there were moments where I myself was afraid of not making it out and back to my family”

— Alex Duenas

On November 8th, Camp Fire started in Butte County in Northern California and began to expand into the largest and most destructive wildfire seen in Californian history. Currently, it is recorded that Camp Fire has destroyed 138,000 acres of land, 10,000 plus buildings, and caused a death toll of 56 and counting. 52,000 residents have been forced to evacuate due to the destructive blaze. 130 people are still unaccounted for.

Most of the damage has been done to the small town of Paradise, where multiple rescue efforts have commenced. According to CNN, 461 responders and 22 canines have been deployed into the area to look for the missing as well as any of the deceased. Currently, the fire is only 35% contained, but residents of Paradise are eager to return to their town.

Deputy Probation Officer, Alex Duenas, who is a responder in assisting evacuation efforts wrote that compared to his past experiences evacuating people due to fire threats, “the campfire on November 8th, 2018 was much worse for everyone involved. It moved faster through a town that had little time and options to evacuate.” Camp Fire has been more dangerous to law enforcement like Mr. Duenas than any other wildfire Butte County has ever encountered.

Mr. Duenas describes the first day of Camp Fire as “one of the most terrifying days” of his life. At the moment, even though on many occasions he and his colleague doubted their survival, he was simply focused on his work. For him, it was the experience of simultaneously feeling the focus on his job as well as being “in fear of his safety.”

Camp Fire, as well as the other wildfires, continue to ravage California throughout the state with death tolls expected to rise. However, because of people like Mr. Duenas, who risk their lives to provide emergency assistance, the situation could be worse.