PARADISE, Calif. (KTVU) - A family from Paradise who lost their home in the fire almost lost their daughter who was at school when the fire roared into town.
“We were just in tears hoping our daughter was safe, hoping she was alright,” said Kevin Burns, fire victim.
Burn was at a doctor’s appointment with his wife in Chico when dark smoke hovered over Paradise. He listened to police scanners.
“The first thing I heard was block the roads to Paradise the whole town is on fire,” said Burns. “That point we realized my daughter went to school that morning and we freaked out. We were trying to get back into town, trying to get to Paradise.”
It was impossible to do since roads were blocked. All they could do was wait at the edge of town while a relative tried to help.
“My mother-in-law went to pick my daughter from school, standing in front of the school screaming her name,” said Burns.
His daughter 11-year-old Kaylee had hitched a ride with a classmate and his mother.
“We saw a bunch of flames,” said Kaylee Burns, fire victim. “Then houses caught on fire and buildings. It was really scary. There were cars in front of us catching on fire.”
They along with so many others drove as fast as they could to safety feeling trapped at times as the fire closed in.
“We were going to get out and run and we did that but we couldn't because it was hot,” said Kaylee Burns. “We were all praying in the car and hoping we would make it out alive.”
“It was just hard to wait for her, it was really hard,” said Ashley Strickland, fire victim.
Kaylee's parents were worried. What typically takes 20 minutes took four hours for Kaylee and her classmate's family to make it to Chico. They were finally reunited with their daughter.
“It was relieving,” said Kevin Burns. “We all just hugged and cried. The lady had holes burned through her shirt. One of the little girls had burns through her pants.”
A neighbor confirmed the Burns family lost their home. All they have now are clothes kept in storage. As they start over, they can't help but have new perspective on what's important.
“Losing the house was really hard but having her, I’m thankful for that,” said Ashley Strickland, fire victim.
“I’m grateful that I have my daughter,” said Kevin Burns. “I look at her every day and it reminds me every day how grateful to have her she's safe.”
They're staying with family members in San Jose for now. A Go Fund Me Page has been set up at: https://www.gofundme.com/qqrytg-victims-of-camp-fire
It’s unclear what will happen with their daughter's schooling. They've considered therapy given the trauma she went through.