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Paradise lost: What’s left of a California town | The Sun

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The town of Paradise in northern California used to be home to nearly 30 thousand people. Photographer Terray Sylvester explains what’s left of it a week into the state’s deadliest and most destructive blaze in history. Ryan Brooks reports.
One week into California’s deadliest wildfire and this is what’s left of some towns.

Burned out cars, and houses reduced to rubble.

Officials say the northern, Camp Fire is still only 35 percent contained.

Freelance photographer Terray Sylvester has been following search and rescue teams in the town of Paradise, once home to nearly 30,000 people.

“The town of Paradise is desolate. Occasionally I saw dogs jump into burned out cars to search for people who may have been trapped as they were trying to escape from town. These dogs normally work calmly. But that wasn’t the case today, today they seemed agitated. Their handlers told me that these dogs seem overwhelmed. Normally when they respond to a fire it would be a fire in a single house. Now the dogs noses are dealing with sensory overload. Not just from potential human remains but from everything else that has burned in all of these homes that have burned in Paradise.

“Paradise is monochromatic. I was talking to a fire fighter who was commenting that after wildfires it seems like the only colors he sees are black and grey and shades of red.

The air is acrid. The air is thick with smoke right now in Chico and the central valley towns below Paradise. I think visibility might be about a third of a mile but in Paradise itself it might be even less than that.

“There’s still no official word on the cause of the killer blaze.”

But victims filed a lawsuit against California’s largest public utility company – PG&E. Alleging negligence and health and safety violations.

“I just have a couple of questions, you know I just want to know why that evacuation was such a failure, number one. And number two, who is responsible?”

Two of the plaintiffs, Leslie and Brian Bell, are expecting their first child in two months’ time.

They’re demanding answers.

“I am the voice for the people that, you know, don’t have renters insurance and it’s not a very rich community by any means but what we have we take pride in, you know it’s gone.”

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