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A look at the destruction in the wake of last November’s Camp Fire on the town of Paradise

The numbers are staggering: at least 85 people died and 18,793 structures destroyed as the wildfire ripped through Northern California and ravaged 153,336 acres.

But last November, the Camp Fire exacted its heaviest price on Paradise, a town of around 27,000 nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

‘Paradise was wiped out in one day,’ said Douglas Keister, a photographer who lives in nearby Chico that has been chronicling the aftermath of what is being called the most ‘destructive and deadliest fire,’ which took over two weeks to contain, in the state’s history.

‘Everything just incinerated. Until you really experience it, it’s just you can’t really understand it. Until you see this many pictures. Otherwise, it’s a little thing that flashes by on TV… and you just go, “that’s too bad.”‘

To that end, Keister is releasing a new book, ‘People, Places & Pieces of Paradise: The inferno, Aftermath & Recovery from the Most Destructive Wildfire in California History,’ in September.  

When the Camp Fire ripped through Northern California starting on November 8, 2018, it exacted its heaviest price on Paradise, a town of around 27,000 nestled in Sierra Nevada foothills. ‘Paradise was wiped out in one day,’ said Douglas Keister, a photographer who lives in nearby Chico that has been chronicling the aftermath of what is being called the most ‘destructive and deadliest fire’ in the state’s history. Above, the ‘Welcome to Bearadise’ statue that stood in front of what was the Black Bear Diner. The diner was iconic, Keister told DailyMail.com about the image titled Black Bear Diner, Clark Road, Paradise. Somehow, the 10-foot tall, around 1,500-pound sculpture survived. It is now in front of the town’s police station 

At least 85 people died in the fire, which took over two weeks to contain, over 18,700 structures were destroyed and 153,336 acres were ravaged. Keister, the photographer, said that the above photo, Rich Dewell's Import Auto Repair, Clark Road, Paradise, tells the tale that when the fire came, the evacuation was so swift that they couldn't take the time to get a car down from the rack. 'Everybody just had to leave and basically run for their lives. The fire was so intense and moving so quickly.' He likened it to Pompeii, saying: 'It's this frozen moment'

At least 85 people died in the fire, which took over two weeks to contain, over 18,700 structures were destroyed and 153,336 acres were ravaged. Keister, the photographer, said that the above photo, Rich Dewell’s Import Auto Repair, Clark Road, Paradise, tells the tale that when the fire came, the evacuation was so swift that they couldn’t take the time to get a car down from the rack. ‘Everybody just had to leave and basically run for their lives. The fire was so intense and moving so quickly.’ He likened it to Pompeii, saying: ‘It’s this frozen moment’

Above, a look at two communities that were destroyed in the fire in an image titled Edgewood and Sawmill Mobile Home Estates. Keister explained that the Sawmill was in the foreground, with Edgewood in the back, divided by a creek. The white in the photo were mobile homes that were completely flattened. Paradise, which is on a ridge, was an affordable and bucolic place for people to retire, Keister noted, with an average age of 55. 'There were 3,000 trailers that burned in the fire,' he told DailyMail.com. 'And most people won't be coming back'

Above, a look at two communities that were destroyed in the fire in an image titled Edgewood and Sawmill Mobile Home Estates. Keister explained that the Sawmill was in the foreground, with Edgewood in the back, divided by a creek. The white in the photo were mobile homes that were completely flattened. Paradise, which is on a ridge, was an affordable and bucolic place for people to retire, Keister noted, with an average age of 55. ‘There were 3,000 trailers that burned in the fire,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘And most people won’t be coming back’

For more than 20 years, Illinois carpenter Greg Zanis has hand fashioned white crosses for victims of tragedies throughout the United States, including the mass shootings of Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida. Zanis, the founder of a nonprofit called Crosses for Losses, made 85 crosses for those who died due to the Camp Fire last November. Keister wrote about the above photo, titled Crosses For Losses, that the memorial is the first thing drivers see when traveling up to Paradise, and that Zanis put up the crosses a few weeks after the fire. Zanis has been quoted as saying: 'There's no interest here other than helping people remember'

For more than 20 years, Illinois carpenter Greg Zanis has hand fashioned white crosses for victims of tragedies throughout the United States, including the mass shootings of Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida. Zanis, the founder of a nonprofit called Crosses for Losses, made 85 crosses for those who died due to the Camp Fire last November. Keister wrote about the above photo, titled Crosses For Losses, that the memorial is the first thing drivers see when traveling up to Paradise, and that Zanis put up the crosses a few weeks after the fire. Zanis has been quoted as saying: ‘There’s no interest here other than helping people remember’ 

The Kalico Kitchen was a longtime local restaurant, started in 1986, that served breakfast, lunch and dinner, according to its website, which was destroyed by the fire. But, somehow, the singed sign of the greasy spoon survived, seen above in an image titled Melted sign, Skyway, Paradise. 'Sometimes the signs survived because they were on the street so they didn't have as much as fire as the building would,' explained Douglas Keister, a photographer who has been chronicling the aftermath of the Camp Fire in the town of Paradise

The Kalico Kitchen was a longtime local restaurant, started in 1986, that served breakfast, lunch and dinner, according to its website, which was destroyed by the fire. But, somehow, the singed sign of the greasy spoon survived, seen above in an image titled Melted sign, Skyway, Paradise. ‘Sometimes the signs survived because they were on the street so they didn’t have as much as fire as the building would,’ explained Douglas Keister, a photographer who has been chronicling the aftermath of the Camp Fire in the town of Paradise 

The morning of November 8, 2018, Keister told DailyMail.com that he ‘somehow missed the time – that I had somehow got the time wrong… ’cause I was working in my office and it was dark and it was 8am.

‘And I looked out the window and… the sky was black and there was a rim of red yellow on the horizon and there were reports of a fire.’

Keister explained that the area is accustomed to fires in the late summer and fall so the news wasn’t that unusual. He went to the activity he was scheduled to do that morning: play softball.

‘But I had enough sense to take my camera,’ he recalled.

One of the pictures he took that morning shows black smoke billowing framed by the colors of the sun – bright reds, oranges and yellows – while the game was played.

‘I mean, it doesn’t look real,’ he said of the image. ‘It looks like something out of some sci-fi movie.’

When it started becoming clear that this was no ordinary fire, Keister said he began photographing around Chico, where he has lived since 2000 and which is down the hill from Paradise. The fire threatened Chico at one point, but to prevent it from entering the town, officials set a controlled fire to stop it in its path, what is known as a back burn.

While Chico was spared, much of Paradise was destroyed and it lost about 90 percent of its population.

At one point, the Camp Fire was burning a football field worth of land every second, and in one day it devoured 70,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

It took 18 days to get the fire under control, and during that period, access to the four roads that led into Paradise, which is in the mountains, were blocked, Keister explained. He managed to get into the town around two weeks after the fire, and said the roads were dangerous and clogged with trees and abandoned cars.

‘There were lots of dead animals on the road. I mean, it was horrible.’

Photographer Douglas Keister has authored and co-authored over 40 books, but he didn't set out to do one about Paradise, much of which was destroyed by the Camp Fire last November. A resident of nearby Chico since 2000, Keister knew the town and its residents. 'Everything just incinerated. Until you really experience it, it's just you can't really understand it. Until you see this many pictures. Otherwise, it's a little thing that flashes by on TV… and you just go, "that's too bad."' Above, an image titled, Burned out truck and trailer, Paradise

Photographer Douglas Keister has authored and co-authored over 40 books, but he didn’t set out to do one about Paradise, much of which was destroyed by the Camp Fire last November. A resident of nearby Chico since 2000, Keister knew the town and its residents. ‘Everything just incinerated. Until you really experience it, it’s just you can’t really understand it. Until you see this many pictures. Otherwise, it’s a little thing that flashes by on TV… and you just go, “that’s too bad.”‘ Above, an image titled, Burned out truck and trailer, Paradise

Keister is releasing a new book, 'People, Places & Pieces of Paradise: The inferno, Aftermath & Recovery from the Most Destructive Wildfire in California History,' in September. He spent months going to Paradise about three times a week to take pictures of what happened after the fire. He used a drone for many of the images, including the one above called McDonald's, Clark Road, Paradise. 'Fire behavior is just, you know, predictably unpredictable,' he told DailyMail.com. The McDonald's sign, with its 'Billions & Billions Served,' is untouched and juxtaposed with the destruction in the background

Keister is releasing a new book, ‘People, Places & Pieces of Paradise: The inferno, Aftermath & Recovery from the Most Destructive Wildfire in California History,’ in September. He spent months going to Paradise about three times a week to take pictures of what happened after the fire. He used a drone for many of the images, including the one above called McDonald’s, Clark Road, Paradise. ‘Fire behavior is just, you know, predictably unpredictable,’ he told DailyMail.com. The McDonald’s sign, with its ‘Billions & Billions Served,’ is untouched and juxtaposed with the destruction in the background

'One of the things I noticed was all the houses gone, cars incinerated, everything gone but the trash cans were okay. It was the weirdest thing,' Keister told DailyMail.com. The photographer was able to get into Paradise about two weeks after the fire and said that the bins were on the street because it was garbage pickup day. He wrote about the above untitled image: 'Since almost anything that was combustible burned entirely to the ground, one of the most common sights were washers and dryers, toolboxes and plastic garbage cans'

‘One of the things I noticed was all the houses gone, cars incinerated, everything gone but the trash cans were okay. It was the weirdest thing,’ Keister told DailyMail.com. The photographer was able to get into Paradise about two weeks after the fire and said that the bins were on the street because it was garbage pickup day. He wrote about the above untitled image: ‘Since almost anything that was combustible burned entirely to the ground, one of the most common sights were washers and dryers, toolboxes and plastic garbage cans’

The Gold Nugget Museum's 'mission has been to preserve and protect the Ridge heritage through the collection and display of local artifacts, and with community education programs,' according to its website. The 'community-funded and volunteer-run repository of Gold Rush and local mining history' institution, according to Atlas Obscura, was completely destroyed in the fire. Above, 'volunteers and Chico State Anthropology students salvaged and tagged artifacts,' Keister wrote about an image titled Rescuing artifacts, Gold Nugget Museum, Pearson Road, Paradise

The Gold Nugget Museum’s ‘mission has been to preserve and protect the Ridge heritage through the collection and display of local artifacts, and with community education programs,’ according to its website. The ‘community-funded and volunteer-run repository of Gold Rush and local mining history’ institution, according to Atlas Obscura, was completely destroyed in the fire. Above, ‘volunteers and Chico State Anthropology students salvaged and tagged artifacts,’ Keister wrote about an image titled Rescuing artifacts, Gold Nugget Museum, Pearson Road, Paradise

Paradise had a vintage and auto show culture with a contingent of people, mostly retirees, that restored old cars, Keister explained. When the fire came to Paradise, people took their SUV not their vintage car to escape, he said, and many of them were left behind. ‘They were just toast.’ Above, an example of what happened to a vintage vehicle in a photo titled Ford Model A, Black Olive Drive, Paradise

Paradise had a vintage and auto show culture with a contingent of people, mostly retirees, that restored old cars, Keister explained. When the fire came to Paradise, people took their SUV not their vintage car to escape, he said, and many of them were left behind. ‘They were just toast.’ Above, an example of what happened to a vintage vehicle in a photo titled Ford Model A, Black Olive Drive, Paradise

The few blocks that Keister saw showed how different this fire was. 

‘With a normal fire, you had a skeleton of a structure left – something. But everything was burnt all the way to the ground,’ he said. ‘All you had left was ash and metal.’

His photos reveal the extent of the devastation with homes and businesses reduced to rubble. One image shows two mobile home communities flattened.

‘There were 3,000 trailers that burned in the fire,’ he said. ‘And most people won’t be coming back.’

Paradise, which is on a ridge, was an affordable and bucolic place for people to retire, Keister noted, with an average age of 55. It also has affluent areas, such as Cliff Drive, which looks down on Butte Creek Canyon, and where homes were totaled as well.

‘The fire did not discriminate,’ he said.

After that initial foray into Paradise, Keister took a planned trip. When he came back, he spoke with his fellow softball players and told them he could photograph their property if they would like. He then went to town about three times a week to shoot and people started asking him about doing a book.

‘I just knew it was a story that needed to be told,’ said Keister, who has authored and co-authored over 40 books. ‘I’ve done this before, I have enough experience and I knew enough people in Paradise. I kind of didn’t have a choice in a way because it’s right in your own backyard.’

He said he realized after taking pictures of the damage and destruction that his book was really about people: 50,000 people were evacuated and 25,000 lost their homes in the fire. He began taking portraits of residents and talking to them about their experience. Even those who are reserved opened up about the fire, he said.

‘It’s just amazing because the terror of it is embedded in their brain.’

Keister said he realized after taking pictures of the damage and destruction that his book was really about people: 50,000 people were evacuated and 25,000 lost their homes in the fire. He began taking portraits of Paradise residents and talking to them about their experience. Even those who are reserved opened up about it, he said. 'It's just amazing because the terror of it is embedded in their brain.' Eight-five people died in the fire, and above, a memorial to the victims in an image titled Crosses For Losses At Sunset

Keister said he realized after taking pictures of the damage and destruction that his book was really about people: 50,000 people were evacuated and 25,000 lost their homes in the fire. He began taking portraits of Paradise residents and talking to them about their experience. Even those who are reserved opened up about it, he said. ‘It’s just amazing because the terror of it is embedded in their brain.’ Eight-five people died in the fire, and above, a memorial to the victims in an image titled Crosses For Losses At Sunset

One of the last pictures Keister took for the book is of Iris Natividad, who lost her boyfriend, Andrew Downer, in the fire. 'Many of the 85 fatalities in the Camp Fire were people who simply couldn't escape from their homes before the fire engulfed them,' he wrote about the above image titled Andrew Downer Memorial Cross. Downer was an amputee who used a wheelchair and was waiting on a prosthetic leg, he wrote. His service dog, Bertha, who didn't leave his side, also died. Above, Natividad kneels in front of Downer's memorial cross

One of the last pictures Keister took for the book is of Iris Natividad, who lost her boyfriend, Andrew Downer, in the fire. ‘Many of the 85 fatalities in the Camp Fire were people who simply couldn’t escape from their homes before the fire engulfed them,’ he wrote about the above image titled Andrew Downer Memorial Cross. Downer was an amputee who used a wheelchair and was waiting on a prosthetic leg, he wrote. His service dog, Bertha, who didn’t leave his side, also died. Above, Natividad kneels in front of Downer’s memorial cross 

The Camp Fire was swift and people fled the town to escape. Many lost everything. Above, Nicole Clark had dropped her son, Kayden Sellers, off at Paradise Elementary School the morning of the fire. The school, however, soon called her to get Kayden as the fire progressed, Keister wrote about the above image called Nicole Clark, Kayden Sellers and Philbin Bear, Inez Way, Paradise. They were able to get their three dogs, two cats as well as Kayden's Superman cape and Philbin Bear, according to Keister, and then drove through the flames to safety

The Camp Fire was swift and people fled the town to escape. Many lost everything. Above, Nicole Clark had dropped her son, Kayden Sellers, off at Paradise Elementary School the morning of the fire. The school, however, soon called her to get Kayden as the fire progressed, Keister wrote about the above image called Nicole Clark, Kayden Sellers and Philbin Bear, Inez Way, Paradise. They were able to get their three dogs, two cats as well as Kayden’s Superman cape and Philbin Bear, according to Keister, and then drove through the flames to safety

Photographer Douglas Keister was introduced to Meghan and Charley Turner, above, through Melissa Schuster, a Paradise Town Council member who owned and operated an events center called Chapelle de L'Artiste Chateau & Retreat. The Turners got married at the event center and each year they would come back on their anniversary to take a commemorative photo. But the facility burned down last year in the fire. Keister took a photo of them at their home, above, for an image called Meghan and Charley Turner at the remains of their home. He said they have since moved to nearby Chico

Photographer Douglas Keister was introduced to Meghan and Charley Turner, above, through Melissa Schuster, a Paradise Town Council member who owned and operated an events center called Chapelle de L’Artiste Chateau & Retreat. The Turners got married at the event center and each year they would come back on their anniversary to take a commemorative photo. But the facility burned down last year in the fire. Keister took a photo of them at their home, above, for an image called Meghan and Charley Turner at the remains of their home. He said they have since moved to nearby Chico

Above, Melissa Schuster, a Paradise Town Council member, lost both her home and her business, and events center called Chapelle de L'Artiste Chateau & Retreat in last November's Camp Fire. The week before she had hosted a Halloween party at the complex. Unsure what she wanted to be for her beloved holiday, she had ordered a few costumes. After the fire, one arrived, the Evil Queen from the TV show 'Once Upon a Time,' and it was a frustrating reminder of all the costumes she had lost. When Keister asked to take her picture, he suggested that she wear something formal. 'I have no evening wear,' she recalled telling him, and then laughed. 'I have three sets of clothes. And then I remembered the silly costume and I thought, "Oh no, this is perfect, this is what I have to do"'

Above, Melissa Schuster, a Paradise Town Council member, lost both her home and her business, and events center called Chapelle de L’Artiste Chateau & Retreat in last November’s Camp Fire. The week before she had hosted a Halloween party at the complex. Unsure what she wanted to be for her beloved holiday, she had ordered a few costumes. After the fire, one arrived, the Evil Queen from the TV show ‘Once Upon a Time,’ and it was a frustrating reminder of all the costumes she had lost. When Keister asked to take her picture, he suggested that she wear something formal. ‘I have no evening wear,’ she recalled telling him, and then laughed. ‘I have three sets of clothes. And then I remembered the silly costume and I thought, “Oh no, this is perfect, this is what I have to do”‘ 

Residents’ stories had similarities, such as how they tried to get out of town once the fire quickly spread, but they were also singular, he said. One image in the book is of Meghan and Charley Turner. The couple stands in front of the ruins that once was their house, and amid the debris only the square rim of the foundation remains. Keister said they moved to Chico after the fire.

Another picture shows Nicole Clark and her son, Kayden Sellers, who is wearing a Superman cape and holding his teddy bear – those were the only things they managed to get out of the house. People simply had no time to gather more because the fire was just that fast.

Keister noted that unless one has experienced losing everything, it is something that can’t be fathomed. 

For her portrait, Melissa Schuster wore one of the few pieces of clothing she had left: a Halloween costume that arrived late after the fire.

Schuster, a member of the Paradise Town Council, lost both her home and her business, an events center called Chapelle de L’Artiste Chateau & Retreat, in the fire. The week before she had hosted a Halloween party.

‘I hadn’t made up my mind as to what my costume would be so I ordered a couple of costumes online before the Halloween party,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘Halloween was my jam.’ 

At the events facility, she had stored several costumes, which all had burned, and so when the one of the Evil Queen from the TV show ‘Once Upon a Time,’ arrived in the mail, Shuster was annoyed and stowed it away in a cupboard in her RV, where she and her husband are now living.

When Keister asked to take her picture, he suggested that she wear something formal.

‘I have no evening wear,’ she recalled telling him and then laughed. ‘I have three sets of clothes… And then I remembered the silly costume and I thought, “Oh no, this is perfect, this is what I have to do.”‘ 

'The fire did not discriminate,' photographer Douglas Keister told DailyMail.com about the destruction it wrecked on the town of Paradise. While many retirees flocked to the town because it was affordable and bucolic, he said, there were more affluent areas, such as Paradise Ridge, which had beautiful views of Butte Creek Canyon. 'They got hit from both sides – they got it coming up and they got it going sideways,' he said, writing about the above image, Cliff Drive, Paradise, only a few of the homes survived

‘The fire did not discriminate,’ photographer Douglas Keister told DailyMail.com about the destruction it wrecked on the town of Paradise. While many retirees flocked to the town because it was affordable and bucolic, he said, there were more affluent areas, such as Paradise Ridge, which had beautiful views of Butte Creek Canyon. ‘They got hit from both sides – they got it coming up and they got it going sideways,’ he said, writing about the above image, Cliff Drive, Paradise, only a few of the homes survived

For his new book, 'People, Places & Pieces of Paradise: The inferno, Aftermath & Recovery from the Most Destructive Wildfire in California History,' which will be released in September, Keister went to Paradise about three times a week to chronicle how the Camp Fire ravaged the town. He used a drone for some of the shoots because 'you couldn't really get a sense of it until you got up into the air a little bit,' he said. Above, an image titled Acorn Court (Castle Drive on upper right), Paradise, taken with a drone that Keister said shows the 'effect of places just burning completely to the ground'

For his new book, ‘People, Places & Pieces of Paradise: The inferno, Aftermath & Recovery from the Most Destructive Wildfire in California History,’ which will be released in September, Keister went to Paradise about three times a week to chronicle how the Camp Fire ravaged the town. He used a drone for some of the shoots because ‘you couldn’t really get a sense of it until you got up into the air a little bit,’ he said. Above, an image titled Acorn Court (Castle Drive on upper right), Paradise, taken with a drone that Keister said shows the ‘effect of places just burning completely to the ground’

One of California's major utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, known as PG&E, was responsible for the Camp Fire. Its power lines were the points of ignition for the fire, which then spread due to 'warm temperatures, dry vegetation, and strong winds,' according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Verge reported. The utility, which filed for bankruptcy in January, will pay a billion to local governments for the Camp Fire and other wildfires with Paradise getting a $270 million slice of that amount, Fox News reported. Thousands of vehicles were destroyed during the fire: some were left at home while others were abandoned on the road when tires caught on fire, according to Keister. Above, an image titled Vehicle Storage Yard, Skyway, Paradise

One of California’s major utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, known as PG&E, was responsible for the Camp Fire. Its power lines were the points of ignition for the fire, which then spread due to ‘warm temperatures, dry vegetation, and strong winds,’ according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Verge reported. The utility, which filed for bankruptcy in January, will pay a billion to local governments for the Camp Fire and other wildfires with Paradise getting a $270 million slice of that amount, Fox News reported. Thousands of vehicles were destroyed during the fire: some were left at home while others were abandoned on the road when tires caught on fire, according to Keister. Above, an image titled Vehicle Storage Yard, Skyway, Paradise

'Everything just incinerated. Until you really experience it, it's just you can't really understand it. Until you see this many pictures. Otherwise, it's a little thing that flashes by on TV… and you just go, "that's too bad,"' photographer Douglas Keister said. To that end, he is releasing a new book, 'People, Places & Pieces of Paradise: The inferno, Aftermath & Recovery from the Most Destructive Wildfire in California History,' in September. Above, an image from the book that shows what is left of a house in the foreground and three apartments in the back

‘Everything just incinerated. Until you really experience it, it’s just you can’t really understand it. Until you see this many pictures. Otherwise, it’s a little thing that flashes by on TV… and you just go, “that’s too bad,”‘ photographer Douglas Keister said. To that end, he is releasing a new book, ‘People, Places & Pieces of Paradise: The inferno, Aftermath & Recovery from the Most Destructive Wildfire in California History,’ in September. Above, an image from the book that shows what is left of a house in the foreground and three apartments in the back

The morning of the fire, November 8, 2018, Keister told DailyMail.com that he 'somehow missed the time - that I had somehow got the time wrong… 'cause I was working in my office and it was dark and it was 8am.' Keister explained that the area is accustomed to fires in the late summer and fall so the news wasn't that unusual, and he went to the activity he was scheduled to do that morning: play softball. Twenty-one of the players in the league lost their homes while more than 35 were temporarily displaced, according to Keister, who said that the above image, Rex Murphy Field, Hooker Oak Complex, Chico, 'looks like something out of some sci-fi movie'

The morning of the fire, November 8, 2018, Keister told DailyMail.com that he ‘somehow missed the time – that I had somehow got the time wrong… ’cause I was working in my office and it was dark and it was 8am.’ Keister explained that the area is accustomed to fires in the late summer and fall so the news wasn’t that unusual, and he went to the activity he was scheduled to do that morning: play softball. Twenty-one of the players in the league lost their homes while more than 35 were temporarily displaced, according to Keister, who said that the above image, Rex Murphy Field, Hooker Oak Complex, Chico, ‘looks like something out of some sci-fi movie’

After it became clear that this was no ordinary fire, Keister said he began photographing around Chico, where he has lived since 2000 and which is down the hill from Paradise. The fire threatened Chico at one point, he said, but to prevent it from entering the town, officials set a controlled fire to stop it in its path, what is known as a back burn. Chico residents woke up to 'a thick black sky rimmed with yellow and red at the horizon,' Keister wrote about the above image Chico Creek Mobile Estates, Manzanita Avenue, Chico

After it became clear that this was no ordinary fire, Keister said he began photographing around Chico, where he has lived since 2000 and which is down the hill from Paradise. The fire threatened Chico at one point, he said, but to prevent it from entering the town, officials set a controlled fire to stop it in its path, what is known as a back burn. Chico residents woke up to ‘a thick black sky rimmed with yellow and red at the horizon,’ Keister wrote about the above image Chico Creek Mobile Estates, Manzanita Avenue, Chico

Crews from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, known as PG&E, were at the event center to cut down trees the day Keister took her picture, she said.

One of California’s major utilities, PG&E was responsible for the Camp Fire. Its power lines were the points of ignition for the fire, which then spread due to ‘warm temperatures, dry vegetation, and strong winds,’ according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Verge reported. The utility, which filed for bankruptcy in January, will pay a billion to local governments for the Camp Fire and other wildfires with Paradise getting $270 million, Fox News reported.

Schuster told DailyMail.com that she was undeterred by the men working that day.

When Keister started photographing Paradise after the fire, he was not planning on doing a book, but eventually, with local residents encouragement, he decided to do one. 'I was doing this because I thought it needed to be done... Eventually it's going to be scraped clean and eventually something will emerge,' Keister, who has authored and co-authored over 40 books, told DailyMail.com. 'I'm a history guy… It's about, you know, preserving the past to better the future.' Above, the cover of his book that will be come out in September

When Keister started photographing Paradise after the fire, he was not planning on doing a book, but eventually, with local residents encouragement, he decided to do one. ‘I was doing this because I thought it needed to be done… Eventually it’s going to be scraped clean and eventually something will emerge,’ Keister, who has authored and co-authored over 40 books, told DailyMail.com. ‘I’m a history guy… It’s about, you know, preserving the past to better the future.’ Above, the cover of his book that will be come out in September

‘I put on this costume and I just walked through all the ash and debris and all of these people that were turning and looking at me with a bottle of champagne and a glass in my hand, and it felt like I was just, I don’t know, holding up my fist to the fire and saying, “take this.”‘

One of the last pictures Keister took for the book is of Iris Natividad, who lost her boyfriend, Andrew Downer, in the fire. Downer, an amputee who was using a wheelchair, was unable to get out of his home when the fire hit, and his service dog, Bertha, who didn’t leave his side, also died. In the image, Natividad kneels in front of Downer’s memorial cross.

Keister is also recording the recovery effort, saying that the cleanup process is going faster than expected.

‘It went from being eerie up there… ’cause no dogs were barking, no birds were chirping – it was strange,’ he said. ‘It’ll be like an empty canvas waiting for next incarnation, whatever that might be. Right now, it’s gone from eerie to busy.’

Thus far, over 10,000 properties have been cleared of debris, 172 building permits have been issued and two home have been rebuilt, according to an August 21 update on the Town of Paradise website.

Schuster said that the town is resilient, and estimated 4,000 people have moved back to Paradise.

‘Our sense is that probably half of the community will return,’ she said, adding that there will be challenges to the several years of recovery.

Nonetheless she is optimistic.

‘I think this is going to be a catalyst for positive change in our community. I really do. At least that’s where I live is in the opportunities as opposed to the disaster.’

Geralynne Rader, above, is part of the Volunteers In Police Service. The morning of the fire, she checked on her mother, stepfather and husband while she contributed to the effort to help those in need, like the elderly women she took to safety, and pitching in with traffic control. Rader lost her cats and her home, and spent the night of the first day of the fire, November 8, 2018, in her car in a church parking lot, according to Keister. Above, an image titled Geralynne Rader, Sawmill Road, Paradise

Geralynne Rader, above, is part of the Volunteers In Police Service. The morning of the fire, she checked on her mother, stepfather and husband while she contributed to the effort to help those in need, like the elderly women she took to safety, and pitching in with traffic control. Rader lost her cats and her home, and spent the night of the first day of the fire, November 8, 2018, in her car in a church parking lot, according to Keister. Above, an image titled Geralynne Rader, Sawmill Road, Paradise

Jayne Locas, above, started planting daffodils around Paradise, inspired by the project that began in the wake of 9/11. She 'decided to apply the idea of planting the early-blooming flowers as a symbol of hope and resilience,' Keister wrote about the above image titled, Jayne Locas, Foster Road and Skyway, Paradise. In 2008, Paradise was hit with a fire that damaged parts of the town, and Locas planted more bulbs. Over 200,000 daffodils have been put in around Paradise by Locas and volunteers. Keister wrote: 'The daffodils that burst forth from the burnt landscape in late winter 2019 gave hope and sustenance to visitors and residents of the Ridge'

Jayne Locas, above, started planting daffodils around Paradise, inspired by the project that began in the wake of 9/11. She ‘decided to apply the idea of planting the early-blooming flowers as a symbol of hope and resilience,’ Keister wrote about the above image titled, Jayne Locas, Foster Road and Skyway, Paradise. In 2008, Paradise was hit with a fire that damaged parts of the town, and Locas planted more bulbs. Over 200,000 daffodils have been put in around Paradise by Locas and volunteers. Keister wrote: ‘The daffodils that burst forth from the burnt landscape in late winter 2019 gave hope and sustenance to visitors and residents of the Ridge’

Paradise's recovery from the fire continues and thus far, over 10,000 properties have been cleared of debris, 172 building permits have been issued, and two home have been rebuilt, according to an August 21 update on the Town of Paradise website. Melissa Schuster, a Paradise Town Council member, told DailyMail.com that an estimated 4,000 people have moved back. 'I think this is going to be a catalyst for positive change in our community. I really do. At least that's where I live is in the opportunities as opposed to the disaster.' Above, an image titled Daffodils at Ridgewood Mobile Home Park. Photographer Douglas Keister said it shows 'the resiliency of nature'

Paradise’s recovery from the fire continues and thus far, over 10,000 properties have been cleared of debris, 172 building permits have been issued, and two home have been rebuilt, according to an August 21 update on the Town of Paradise website. Melissa Schuster, a Paradise Town Council member, told DailyMail.com that an estimated 4,000 people have moved back. ‘I think this is going to be a catalyst for positive change in our community. I really do. At least that’s where I live is in the opportunities as opposed to the disaster.’ Above, an image titled Daffodils at Ridgewood Mobile Home Park. Photographer Douglas Keister said it shows ‘the resiliency of nature’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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