As Paradise rebuilds, some former residents say they’ll never return

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ROSEVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) -- Ninety-four-year-old Emily said escaping her home in Paradise last year was a terrifying ordeal.

“We could see the fire, you know, the trees. There were a lot of trees around,” Emily, who did not want to use her last name in this story, told FOX40. “And then I couldn’t get anything out of the telephone. Everything was shut off.”

So she got in her car and left -- and she wasn’t alone.

“You know, everybody started getting out of the place,” she said.

It wasn’t long before she was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, only going about 20 mph as the Camp Fire burned ever closer.

“On the sides of the road one place where we had to go by that was fire, you know, so it was bad,” Emily said.

Meanwhile, Emily’s son, Mike, said all of their relatives were desperately trying to find his mother.

“I called my mother’s phone number, her home phone. She didn’t answer,” he said. “Everyone was evacuating the town. So, we were all kind of in a panic.”

Eventually, Emily made it to Oroville where she was able to use the phone at a restaurant.

“We were really proud of her. She drove out of there with fire on both sides of her car at the age of 93,” Mike said.

But her home and all of her belongs are now gone. Paradise had been her home since 1974.

“It was a wonderful little town and I was getting along fine,” Emily said. “It didn’t seem like there would be a fire like that.”

But now, living at the Roseville Commons retirement home, she said she’ll never go back.

“I wouldn’t want to because I don’t know they could have another fire,” she said.

And Emily isn’t alone. Her other son and granddaughter also lost their homes and resettled in Oregon and Chico. They said moving back isn’t worth the risk.

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