California Fires

Debbie Levesque, staff writer and photographer

California has at last finished the fight with two devastating fires in Butte (North) and Ventura County (South) with over 260,000 acres burned and almost 20,000 structures destroyed. The cause of this tragic event in our nation is unknown but still under investigation.

Being the deadliest in Californian record books, the fire that originated in Butte, named “Camp Fire”, alone killed 85 people with 249 unaccounted for and consumed nearly 14,000 homes. After 20 days, it was 100% contained Sunday morning.

The second and smaller fire, Woolsey, ignited near Los Angeles and destroyed 1,500 structures and took 3 lives before it was contained on November 21st.

But during this horrifying experience for the citizens in California, everyday people were willing to give their lives in order to save a stranger. Some even heading into the flames to rescue those who were stranded.

School bus driver, Kevin Mckay(41) was able to successfully rescue 22 students and a couple teachers from Ponderosa Elementary School in Paradise, California on his school bus. During the drive toward safety, the bus started to fill with smoke. Mckay took his shirt and tore it into pieces big enough to cover the nose and mouth of the children, doused the scraps in water and distributed the homemade smoke masks to the students. Thanks to this unlikely hero, these children survived and were able to make it back to their families.

Danny Ray Cummings, an ordinary trash collector decided to check up on the people that were on his route. While ignoring his call to leave Paradise, and get somewhere safe, he found Margaret Newsum, a 93 year old woman who was recovering from a broken back. He brought her to safety in his trash collecting truck.

Sources: CNN, ABC, CBS, The Sacramento Bee,, The Federalist,, New York Times