'Get out now:' Paradise pastor recalls harrowing escape

Monday, November 19, 2018
 | 
Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)

Paradise homes burntThe Camp fire in Northern California is now the most destructive fire in that state's history, and a pastor tells a harrowing story of a narrow escape from his town that was burning to the ground.

"We grabbed what we could," Tim Bolin says of his frantic escape from Paradise, a town of 27,000 in Butte County. 

"The fire moved so fast — faster than emergency officials grasped, faster than evacuation orders could be acted on — consuming entire neighborhoods before people could flee," The Los Angeles Times reported days later.

In the neighborhoods of Paradise, the Times reported, gusts of wind estimated at 72 mph blew flames from home to home, skipping tree canopies but incinerating whole houses.

 Related stories with Pastor Tim Bolin

Forest fire

'Get out now': Paradise pastor recalls harrowing escape

CA church, scattered by fire, attempts to come together

New life coming out of Calif. ashes

The needs are great in Paradise lost

A beacon of hope among ruins of Paradise

Despite destruction, community Christmas on the way

The streets of the town were clogged with thousands of people in hundreds of automobiles attempting to escape, then those same vehicles --- abandoned by their owners --- blocked emergency crews from entering the town with evacuation buses. Bulldozers were called and pushed them aside.

The flames somehow missed Bolin's house and the church, Providence Alliance Church, but his three grown children lost their homes. The fire also consumed the homes of 16 of 21 people on staff at the church.

So far no one from the church has been reported dead, but several are missing and the rest of the congregation seems to be scattered to the four winds, and Bolin doesn't know if they'll ever meet again, he tells OneNewsNow.

'Get out now'

The pastor says he was meeting with church staff on the morning on November 8, a day none of them will ever forget. The nightmare that was on its way, he says, started with an offhand remark when someone mentioned the smoke.

"We went outside and a limb dropped right between us – I mean literally about a foot-and-a-half piece of fir tree, and it had embers on it," Bolin recalls.

Paradise fire van on fireThe church members rushed home to start packing but the firestorm descended on the town so quickly that Bolin and his wife of 41 years barely had time to gather family pets before they had to run.

"My brother called me and said, Get out now, the town's burning," he recalls. "So we just left. We literally had minutes to get out."

He says his daughter-in-law was attempting to outrun the flames on foot with her children, because flames were surrounding the family car. They were rescued by a Cal Fire hero in a bulldozer.

The entire family is safe, 22 people and 10 dogs gathered under the roof of family member in nearby Chico. But the pastor knows his family is lucky.

"There are about 600 people and about 25 dogs looking for bodies now," he says. "They're finding them out in the middle of the woods, people just running for their lives. They're finding them all over the place now."

The church website for Paradise Alliance Church now directs people to the Camp Fire Relief Fund.

Listen to more of the pastor's interview with OneNewsNow here.

Comments

We moderate all reader comments, usually within 24 hours of posting (longer on weekends). Please limit your comment to 300 words or less and ensure it addresses the article - NOT another reader's comments. Comments that contain a link (URL), an inordinate number of words in ALL CAPS, rude remarks directed at other readers, or profanity/vulgarity will not be approved. More details

FEATURED PODCAST

SIGN UP FOR OUR DAILY NEWSBRIEF

SUBSCRIBE

VOTE IN OUR POLL

Just once, I'd like to see the secular media …

CAST YOUR VOTE

GET PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

SUBSCRIBE

LATEST AP HEADLINES

Curfews ordered in more than dozen US cities
Protests heat up across US, governors call in National Guard
FBI says its top lawyer is leaving the bureau
‘Back in the game’: SpaceX ship blasts off with 2 astronauts
National Guard summoned to aid cities amid police clashes
Pentagon puts military police on alert to go to Minneapolis
What’s behind latest India-China border tension

LATEST FROM THE WEB

Trump says will not allow mob violence to rule
Knife-wielding woman shot and killed by police, days after her brother was arrested for ISIS terror plot
Opinion — Andrew McCarthy: Laws against rioting and terrorism must be enforced against Antifa and other violent radicals
Supreme Court rejects challenge to limits on church services; Roberts sides with liberals
In unusual move, US embassies in Africa speak up on Floyd

CARTOON OF THE DAY

Cartoon of the Day
NEXT STORY
An ugly fight over a little boy's big change

gender confusion 3A family dispute in Texas is pitting a divorced mother and father on opposite sides because she considers their son a transgender child.