The Camp Fire — the deadliest and most destructive blaze in modern California history — destroyed nearly 14,000 homes in Butte County, primarily in and around Paradise.
But businesses large and small were also destroyed. One day before the one-month anniversary of the fire's ignition, more than 2,000 people have filed unemployment claims in the fire zone.
HollieAnne Vrbeta and her husband, Michael, are two of them. They lost their home in the fire, and their jobs as well.
"Everything is just so uncertain," HollieAnne said. "It kind of makes me nervous that I don't know anything at all. Any plan at all for the future."
HollieAnne worked as a nurse at the Feather River Hospital. Paradise's only hospital was badly damaged in the Camp Fire and won't reopen until 2020.
"The hospital has given us a little bit of severance pay, but we're essentially all looking for new jobs," HollieAnne said.
"Right now if you're not going anywhere or if you're not wanting to leave the area, there's a huge surplus of nurses now looking for jobs at just two little hospitals [in Butte County]. So I don't know. It's going to be an interesting application process."
Michael Vrbeta owned a dental lab. It burned to the ground.
"Even if I were to rebuild tomorrow or, say, move to Chico and open up a place in Chico tomorrow, all my clients are burned out," Michael said. "So yeah, the scope is bigger than just a house or a business burned in a town. It's the entire town. The economic flow is gone."
While business owners are eligible for unemployment because the Camp Fire is a declared disaster, it is harder for them to get back on their feet.
"If you are ... a worker that can go outside of this area or maybe into another community close by and get another job, that's amazing. But rebuilding a business and employing people, having other people count on you, that's something that might need some support," said Casey Hatcher, Butte County’s economic development manager.
She said her office is trying to help small businesses reopen and stay in the county.
"We recognize that a lot of the residents are still [living] locally, although certainly many of them are evacuated outside of the area, outside of the county," Hatcher said.
"But a lot of them are here, so it's finding those unique opportunities for those businesses to serve the residents that are displaced. But we have a whole bunch of workers that are going to be in that area as we go through this recovery process. And that's a market in itself."
But that may not be enough for the Vrbetas.
Even if they are able to put Michael’s business back together and find HollieAnne a new nursing job near Chico, housing availability is tight and they’re not sure they can find another rental in the county.