But Paradise, a Butte County town of about 27,000, and several small surrounding communities, have been decimated by the Camp Fire, the deadliest, most destructive blaze in California history. The conflagration, which began on Nov. 8 at approximately 6:30 a.m., has killed at least 56 and destroyed more than 10,000 structures, including at least 8,650 single residence homes.
We went back to revisit some of those spots to photograph them again after the blaze. Those images are below.
KQED health reporter Laura Klivans and photographer Anne Wernikoff spent time with Sabrina Hanes in August for a story on childhood trauma. Hanes is a mother and student at Chico State University, and she's lived in Paradise since 2007. The home she rented for years was destroyed in the blaze. Hanes did not have renter's insurance as she could not afford it.
She described during the summer what she loved most about Paradise: "The community. It's just so amazing — everybody's just welcoming. There's so many different hiking trails and so many different community events. You just feel like you're home. My parents still live in the Bay Area, and they want me to come back, but I can't leave. It's amazing here."
When asked about what's challenging about Paradise. "Nothing," she answered.
Other buildings were inexplicably spared as areas around them went up in flames. Thousands of other structures were simply flattened.
When asked if she will move back to Paradise, Hanes said, "There's nothing left... there's really nothing to go back to."
KQED's Don Clyde contributed to this report.