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Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire (2021)

by Lizzie Johnson

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This is a disaster movie, in book form - and it's a true story.

On a dry windy November morning in 2018, a poorly-maintained PG&E transmission line sparked a fire that caught in drought-dry grass and burned through forests thick after centuries of forest mismanagement; an accident of geography that put the town of Paradise right in the fire's path.

This book lays out all of the factors that helped turn the fire into a cataclysm, and tells the stories of people trying to escape the flames. Most of the people in the town that morning escaped and survived, but 85 didn't. We see the firefighters trying to respond to the fire, and the town government trying to respond to the fire bigger than anything they can imagine. It's a gripping page-turner.

On the day I bought this book, the sky was pale and the sun was a pallid yellow from yet another wildfire burning hundreds of miles away in the Sierra foothills in California, a sobering reminder that we're still in the opening scenes of the big disaster movie unfolding in real time around us. ( )
  kiesa | Sep 14, 2021 |
One Town’s Struggle to Survive and American Wildfire

Paradis, California

“Paradise” is a brutal account of the deadliest wildfire in California history. The author, an investigative reporter, narrates in detail what she has drawn out from firsthand accounts, reports from 911calls, residents, officials and fire department workers.

November 2018,” Camp Fire”

The fire was fast less than two hours after it started, Paradis was engulfed in flames. Balancing horror with compassion Ms. Johnson notes that management’s practices had allowed the woods to become diseased and overgrown this with neglect on the part of Pacific Gas and Electric Company were the key factor for this disaster. The details are horrifying and overwhelming. The account of young mother fleeing with her newborn, a school full of children in search of an escape route, medics, nurses as well as patients trapped. Heartbreaking: The list of victims and where they were found. The fire nearly leveled the town of Paradise and the surrounding areas...This is a gripping, edge of your seat read.

The investigation: brought PG&E to their knees

The verdict: “Guilty: PG&E enters pleas for 85 Camp Fire felonies

It took time and heart to gives us this well-researched and reported account. Kudos to you Ms. Johnson you definitely painted a horrific picture of a wild fire out of control....

I had the opportunity to receive this book from Crown Publishing via Netgalley for my thoughts: this is the way I see it. ( )
  Tigerpaw70 | Aug 11, 2021 |
PARADISE by Lizzie Johnson

This is the history of the town of Paradise, California, and some of the histories of its early settlers and modern inhabitants. As we all know, the town of Paradise was devastated by the CAMP FIRE in 2018. Paradise was a thriving town before the fire and now it is a struggling area.

The book tells more personable details about some of the people who lived there and how the fire and evacuation impacted their lives. It is disheartening because the fire was found to be caused by a faulty PG&E line. This could have been prevented. 85 people lost their lives in this fire.

I wanted to read the story of Paradise since I have family that is from there and other family members that live in the same county of Butte. I thought it good to be educated on the strife and struggles of the residents that had endured the heartbreak of the CAMP FIRE.

Many thanks to #netgalley for the complimentary copy of #paradise I was under no obligation to post a review. ( )
  HuberK | Apr 16, 2021 |
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Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet. He would like to pause for a moment so fair, to awaken the dead and to piece together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong that the angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows sky-high.

—Walter Benjamin, "On the Concept of History"
In memory of Phil John,
who believed in Paradise, even,
and especially,
when it was ruined.
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