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One year on: Rebuilding Paradise after the blaze

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics - Duration: 02:22s - Published < > Embed
One year on: Rebuilding Paradise after the blaze

One year on: Rebuilding Paradise after the blaze

It's been a year since the California town of Paradise was engulfed by the deadliest wildfire in state history.

Shrubs and grass have grown over the charred remains of people's homes, and residents say rebuilding the structures is only half the battle.

Michelle Hennessy reports.

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One year on: Rebuilding Paradise after the blaze

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SQUIRE HOWELL, RESIDENT OF PARADISE WHO LOST HIS HOME IN THE FIRE, SAYING: "The sky turned black.

No more morning sun.

We are talking like 09:30 in the morning so I threw what I could in my work van and drove away from it all.

It's been 12 months since the town of Paradise was lost to a wildfire.

85 people were killed in the deadliest blaze in California's history.

Squire Howell had been living in the town for nearly 50 years.

He now inspects the ground that his home used to stand on.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SQUIRE HOWELL, RESIDENT OF PARADISE WHO LOST HIS HOME IN THE FIRE, SAYING: "These homes burned and all the water just squirted out of all their water lines and the fire hydrants all went dry.

So, they had no water to fight the fire with.

That was ... some people called it a perfect storm and it was." Fewer than a fifth of residents have trickled back.

They now mostly live in trailers, as they try to piece their lives back together.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JOSEPH CLINE, A 40-YEAR-OLD FATHER OF ONE, WHO LOST HIS HOME AND BUSINESS IN THE FIRE, SAYING: "A month before the fire my father passed away so I went through that and then a month later I had the fire, lost our home, basically my business, my work.

And I figure that is enough loss for one lifetime hopefully." It's taken the full year since the fire to remove the debris, some of it toxic, but all fragments of people's lives.

Authorities have promised change.

Forty recovery projects include better evacuation routes and an early warning siren.

So similar disasters can be prevented in future.

But some residents say rebuilding Paradise is just half the battle: (SOUNDBITE) (English) EARL CUMMINGS, 47-YEAR-OLD RESIDENT OF PARADISE, WHO LOST HIS HOME IN THE FIRE, SAYING: "Structures can be rebuilt but it is what is happening inside of a person to their psyche that has to really be looked at" Earl Cummings grew apart from his girlfriend and family after the fire.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) EARL CUMMINGS, 47-YEAR-OLD RESIDENT OF PARADISE, WHO LOST HIS HOME IN THE FIRE, SAYING: "Just the unknowing not where we were going to live ... and just the traumatic part is happening so quickly you are left in despair.

I will say this ... I saw the worst in people but I also saw the best in people where people came together and helped one another escape the fire." For now, the town is preparing to break ground on a new Hope Plaza.

85 seconds of silence will be held, one for each person lost in the blaze.




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