Northern California family talk about their escape from Paradise

ASHLAND, Ore.  — A Paradise family is staying in the Rogue Valley in hopes to get back on their feet.  The Wilmes family is one of the thousands displaced by the Camp Fire.

Longtime Paradise resident Troy Wilmes lost his home and everything he owned in the deadly Camp Fire.

“We saw flames in the backyard and a 75-foot jack pine went up in flames and my sister and I looked at each other and said it’s time to go,” said Troy Wilmes.

His niece Isabella Wilmes, his mother Debby Wilmes, and his sister Kelly Wilmes lived 8 miles north of him.

“The patrol came around and said you must evacuate now,” said Kelly Wilmes. “Because the fire was just two blocks away from our house now,” added Isabella Wilmes.

In those last few moments before abandoning their home, they said everything went black.

“The fire was behind us, and above us, and around us and we didn’t know which way so we stayed in one place for a couple of hours,” said Troy’s mother Debby Wilmes.

The family drove two hours to safety, in what would normally have taken just 30 minutes.

“Two days ago we did get the photos that my place is gone,” said Troy Wilmes.

But it’s not all bad news for the Wilmes family.

“We did see a picture of their house [Isabella, Debby, and Kelly] so we feel like it could possibly be okay.”

Isabella, Debby, and Kelly said their home and their neighbors are two out of the hundreds that were spared.  While Troy wasn’t so lucky, he was able to save Miss Lily, a cat he adopted when he moved into his house 16 years ago.

“This is my last thing left there from my memories at the house,” said Troy Wilmes.

While it’s unsafe for the family to return, they are eternally grateful for the kindness they’ve received from the community.

“Thank you for all your love and kindness. We felt the love for sure. Everywhere…amazing.”

The family is planning to fly out to Alaska on Friday to stay with family.

A GoFundMe page has been set up.  If you’ll like to donate, click HERE. 

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