Survivors of deadly California fire still in shock
CHICO, US: Some plan to travel far away, while others are determined to rebuild their lives there, but most of the survivors of the deadly fire that ravaged the California town of Paradise are still in shock.
"For now, I am so grateful to be here alive with my family," said Ms Diane Mullin, who could not hold back her tears.
Ms Elizabeth Gorman, who was among tens of thousands of people who fled the blaze, said her town was now "down to nothing".
"There are whole neighbourhoods that are just gone. My daughter's house, her mother-in-law and husband's house... every house on the street is just gone," said Ms Gorman, who is in her 50s. "It's horrible."
The so-called Camp Fire has now killed at least 42 people, making it the deadliest wildfire in California history.
Like many others, Ms Gorman said she still has no idea what might remain of her house because the authorities have issued evacuation orders and barred residents from trying to return to the town.
Some stayed with friends and family elsewhere, others in hotels - which are completely booked for miles. The less fortunate are reduced to sleeping in churches and schools turned into emergency shelters.
"There are close to 200 people sleeping here, and then throughout the day, a lot more coming to get information and to eat, or for a warm place to stay for a while," said Mr Paul Stanbrook, a supervisor from the American Red Cross, which manages the centre in the Neighborhood Church of Chico.
"We're doing sheltering and also assisting folks that are coming in looking for information... missing persons, help services. We're feeding people, everyone in the community," he said.
Behind Mr Stanbrook, a dozen evacuees finish their breakfast on camping tables, looking absent-mindedly at a television set.
Ms Mullin, who is one of them, wants to stay positive.
"We will rebuild, one step at a time. We will rebuild our home. We will be a part of rebuilding that town, because it's a beautiful town. We just have to count our blessings... and not count the losses right now," she said. - AFP