Roy Gilbert

Paradise rebuilds but is it any safer a year after wildfire?

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PARADISE, Calif. —

There was “no way in hell” Victoria Sinclaire was rebuilding in Paradise.

She’d thought she was going to die during the six hours it took her to escape the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. The town where she’d raised her family was nearly wiped out, two of her three cats had disappeared into the flames, and she “was done.”

Sinclaire and tens of thousands of others in nearby communities fled the wind-whipped inferno that killed 85 people and incinerated roughly 19,000 homes, businesses and other buildings on Nov. 8, 2018.

Despite her vow to stay away, Sinclaire’s family was one of the first to rebuild, braving the enduring threat of wildfires, and now, repeated power outages as the nation’s largest utility tries to prevent its equipment from sparking blazes on windy days like it did in Paradise a year ago.

Weeks after the fire, Sinclaire had an epiphany when she returned to the ruins of her home, where she raised a daughter and nearly two dozen foster children over eight years. Even rescue groups eventually found her two missing cats.

“There was a wind that was blowing through what was left of my trees, and I just felt a calmness. I just felt more peace than I had any time since the fire, and I was standing in the ashes of our living room,” she said. “It was just like, ‘This is home,’ and then the thought of living anyplace else seemed impossible.””Rebuilding the Ridge” is a rallying […]

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