Melissa Estalilla lives in Magalia, just northeast of Paradise. On Thursday, she says she was aware of the Camp Fire, but she didn't know it was going to spread so quickly, or that she would end up stranded in a Rite Aid, surrounded by flames.
"The flames were coming in all afternoon," she said. "There was just a big billow of smoke."
Late Thursday evening, Estalilla was listening to the radio and heard that the area was under mandatory evacuation orders. But when Estalilla tried to flee, the roads were closed.
"We couldn't get out at all," she said. "The roads were closed because of the flames. There was fire everywhere."
So she headed to the town's Save More to seek shelter with a group of other evacuees. Estalilla said she heard propane tanks exploding and saw nearby trees falling over.
The group left the Save More but only made it about a half mile before taking refuge in a Rite Aid.
"Firefighters actually broke into Rite Aid, so we'd have a safe place to be because there was fire everywhere," she said.
Estalilla doesn't know exactly how long she was stranded, but it was long enough to think she wasn't going to make it out alive.
"I thought I was going to die and that I was never going to see my kids again," she said. "There was fire everywhere. We were surrounded by flames."
Eventually, first responders came and saved them. "The next thing we know, the police were coming in here saying, 'How'd you get in here?' " Estalilla said.
Their rescuers were police officers from Sacramento, and they took the evacuees into their cars and drove them to an evacuation center at the Butte County Fairgrounds early Friday morning.
Estalilla said her daughter, who also lives in Magalia, lost two houses in the area. As for her own home, like countless others, she didn't know whether it survived the blaze.