The town of Paradise, California, burned to the ground on Nov. 8, 2018, in the Camp Fire. It was the most destructive and deadly wildfire ever recorded in the history of California. The risk of fire has always been there. The state is always heading into, living through, or recovering from a drought. Brush fires occur at the end of every summer. Fire has always been a part of life in California. However, large destructive fires are no longer an anomaly. The fire season has evolved into something to be feared, as each new season is worse than the last.
The Camp Fire was well underway as I walked across the parking lot of Feather River Hospital to start my ED shift. Strong winds brought in the scent of smoke and fire. Reports said the gusts were up to 60 mph. That sounds about right. Retrospectively, I can say those were the signs of a destructive wildfire closing in on our hospital, but at the time, I was completely oblivious—and so was everyone else. It was business as usual. Patients were checking into the emergency department. The operating room was running cases. Hospitalists were making rounds. The cafeteria was still serving breakfast.