PARADISE, Calif. (KTVU) - In the town of Paradise, the grim task of sifting through the debris continued in the rain on Wednesday as fire crews and cadaver dogs braved the weather, unsure of what they might find.
Public works crews laid down large straw waddles to keep ash from getting into nearby waterways.
“We’re trying to prevent as much silt and ash from getting into the waterways as much as we can, we’ve tried to prioritize homes in ash areas,” explained the Assistant Director of Public Works for Butte County, Radley Ott.
While the rainfall is helping put out the flames, the wet weather is also hampering efforts to identify the remains of those still missing.
“They’ve been sifting through fine ash, now that ash isn’t ash anymore, it’s mud basically,” said Cal Fire Spokesman Rick Carhart.
Down the road, Brenda Wilson has spent the last nine days camping out in a tent in a lot next to the Chico Walmart, with dozens of other evacuees.
“I can’t let this little bit of rain break me or a little bit of cold break me,” she said.
Wilson’s home in Magalia survived the fire but she’s still under an evacuation order. She said she had no plans of leaving the tent city because she doesn’t have a reliable car and the county’s shelter in Gridley is too far from her home.
“A whole town is gone,” she said. “I think once reality hits I’ll probably cry and pray for days. But right now I have to stay focused because I have my dog and my two sons.”
For other evacuees, the rain was too much. About a third of them packed up and left overnight Tuesday.
Rob Topei works with a group called North Valley Mutual Aid. He said with another storm on the way, he bets everyone in the tent city will be gone in the next day or two.
“I think a lot of people had plans to go with family or relatives. Not everybody has a car here, and most everybody who does is planning to leave today or tomorrow,” Topei said.