By Miriam Raftery
November 12, 2018 (San Diego) – The Camp Fire that turned Paradise, California into a scene out of hell has impacted family members of several local residents. A fundraiser to help the Camp Fire victims has been set up here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/552862868514901/
Ray Lutz of El Cajon, founder of Citizens Oversight and a former Congressional candidate, says his sister, Anitra, and her husband Tony Dominguez, a volunteer firefighter, lost everything when the fire destroyed their home in Paradise (photo, top left). He has set up a GoFundMe site to help them.
Within minutes of when Tony smelled smoke, Lutz writes, “Burning embers were flying everywhere. They grabbed some photo albums and evacuated, not having time to really get anything else except for the clothes they were wearing. They were able to save two cats, but were helpless as they watched their investment and plan for retirement disappear. The only thing left at that address is the fireplace chimney…This is going to be extremely hard for them as they were living on a limited fixed income and still had house payments. My goal is to get them some cash they can use to buy some essentials, such as clothes and food and to allow them to find lodging for the next few days and perhaps weeks.” The couple has two daughters, including one who recently married and had wedding gifts stored at the home, he added. The other daughter lives in Carlsbad.
San Diego musician Charlie Imes, who once performed at a benefit for East County Magazine at Cuyamaca College, writes on Facebook, “All of my extended family (siblings, nephews, cousins, etc.) got out and are safe, but all of their homes, possessions, family heirlooms and the lives they knew are in ashes.”
Imes posted photos of what’s been lost (right), along with a poignant memoir which reads in part, “Paradise Lost. It's weird writing an obit for a town, but this one loomed large in my life. These are pictures of Paradise, CA, which if you've been watching the news, you know by now it's been wiped off the map in less than 24 hours. Paradise and the neighboring town of Chico have been a second home to me and my family since I was about 12 years old when my sister Judy moved to the area with her family.”
He recalls, “I would visit in the summers when I was young, where she and her husband taught me to water ski up there in Lake Oroville. My brothers soon moved up there as well, and I would stay with them in the summers, going tubing, fishing and playing golf among the pines. I moved up there for a short time and for 6 months, all 6 of us kids were living up there. (I returned to So Cal to find work.) For decades, this was where my family would gather for Thanksgivings, Christmas's and other occasions. At one point, we finally moved my parents up there to be closer to some of their kids and grandkids. We had family weddings up there, a few memorial services and a bunch of my nieces and nephews graduating from school up there… Now I can't tear my eyes away from the news as I watched the little mountain town nestled in the foothills of the Sierras burn to the ground in a matter of hours.”