This Was The Deadliest Fire In California History

By Logan DeLoye

August 12, 2022

Galicia fire
Photo: Getty Images

The worst fire in California history happened only four years ago this November. On November 8, 2018, "Camp Fire" leveled Butte County to mere ashes after fires ravaged the region. KTVU compared the scene to an "apocalypse" stating that the smoke was as "thick as molasses."

The fire quickly spread over Butte County, but the small town of Paradise lost the most. The incident started early in the morning and most people received warning of evacuation before it was too late. 18,804 buildings were entirely lost in the fire and 86 people died. KVTU mentioned that tens of thousands of people who left their homes had to camp further down the mountain in Chico. They lost everything.

After the fires, Artist Jesse Mercer went searching for keys within the rubble to create a phoenix sculpture to represent rising from the fire.

"It's just pretty profound and the trust that people gave me for a year, I don't know how to thank you except for what I did which was give this right back to the people," Mercer told KVTU.

A year after the devastation occurred, cafe owner Nikki Jones was the first to rep-open a business in Paradise. She was persistent upon reopening in place of the burned structure because Paradise was her home. Though the town has continued to rebuild over the last three and a half years, over 16,000 of the original residents did not return.

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