Evacuation warnings reignite trauma for Happy Camp residents

HAPPY CAMP, Cali. – The one-year anniversary of the Slater Fire, which tore through the community of Happy Camp is coming up. With the town currently under an evacuation warning from the McCash Fire, many residents are experiencing their trauma all over again.

“It’s frustrating, obviously, for the survivors of the community. It’s scary,” said Abby Yeager, Executive Director for the Happy Camp Community Center.

She’s been at the forefront of the rebuilding process. Last year just after Labor Day the Slater Fire burned through Happy Camp, destroying over 200 homes.

“Officials were telling people you don’t live here anymore, you live in Yreka now. You have to relocate or you have to locate to another community,” said Yeager.

Residents fought to live in the town they call home, despite being told they should move away. Now another wildfire, the McCash Fire, is threatening the area.

“Survivors who lost their home are and also residents struggle to cope with this,” said Yeager.

The McCash Fire is currently threatening Elk Creek, an area many survivors moved to once their homes burned down.

“I think those people are feeling the stress a lot. As well as those who are trying to understand what happened a year ago. I think a lot of community is still just reeling from the event,” said Yeager.

Much of the community is still processing last year’s trauma, they say they can’t fathom going through it again. They planned a Slater Fire Memorial next Wednesday. But with the recent evacuation warning and spike in COVID-19 cases in Siskiyou County, it’s been put on hold.

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