CHICO -- It’s a phrase many have now heard over and over from survivors of the Camp Fire – “We were going to die.”
Four employees of the Feather River Hospital recounted their terrifying tale of escape. Their horrifying attempt to save themselves included getting into then leaving a car that burned shortly after.
From there they got into a rig carrying a bulldozer then a sheriff’s vehicle that took them to Pearson Road, where they came across a stalled CHP unit.
"Tried to help him, couldn't help him. So he got in with us. Our car was disabled," said supervisor Sarah McCain.
That’s where things looked grim.
“With the sheriff radioing for help. All I remember is something about six of us on foot engulfed in flames,” McCain said.
They called their family thinking this was the end.
“I was crying. I don’t remember there being words other than, ‘I love you,’” said emergency room registered nurse Chelsea West.
“We never gave up. We never stopped walking," said surgical unit manager Jeff Roach. "We never stopped trying but we just felt like we weren't going to make it. There was no way out, we just didn't want to burn."
Then with adrenaline, fear and no visibility, there was the sound of a savior -- a bulldozer coming down the hill.
“And that’s what saved us. He was coming to clear a path. I don’t know if it was a coincidence or what, but that’s how we were saved," McCain said.
A firefighter then drove them to the only safe area around -- back to the hospital. They all went right back to doing what they do best, helping others in need.
“Therapeutic almost for us to take care of other people," West said. "I was not thinking about what had just happened to me anymore. I was doing something, you know, helping people in moving forward. I felt like we were going to get out all together.”