Until now, I have been too numb, too shocked, to write about the Camp Fire, the most devastating fire that California has ever seen. On Thursday November 8, 2018, within eight hours, a wild, speedway fire engulfed, gulped down, and swallowed nearly a town called Paradise, a community of 27,000 people about 90 miles away from us here in Redding.
Imagine what it was like for Paradise residents who were awakened at 6:30 am by a roaring, thunderous sound, which was hellfire, loud fire, liquid fire flaming as a flash flood, spilling out on them so suddenly and rapidly that they barely had time to put their shoes on, much less pack up their valuables.
The frantic warning to townsfolk was, “Get out! Get out! Right now!” Still in their pajamas, they had to run for their lives upon waking.
Crisis erupted immediately because there aren’t many roads into Paradise. Or leading out of it.
The one main route was so jammed up with heavy traffic and haunted with heavy hearts that it took six hours for many people to forge through it to reach safety.
The fire raced ahead so fast that it advanced forward by 80 football fields every minute. As you will soon see if you look at the video footage (link below), the ravenous fire burned visibly on both sides of the road.
Here‘s what people went through, trying to escape. (Unfortunately, it is preceded by an advertisement that pays no deference to the pillaging, raving flames.)
Twenty-three people (so far) have been tragically killed by the Camp Fire.
More fires are expected to devour more of California this year and next — and into the unfolding next decade.
Lord, how can we pray for the firefighters, the decision-makers, the families, the residents, the homeowners, the survivors of dead loved ones? How do you hold a funeral for a lost town? People’s familiar setting, their sense of place, their sense of home has been charred.
Teach us in this, Lord. Help us to number our days (Psalm 90). Grant us soft hearts to pray for comfort, peace, rest, and restoration for all the victims of this menacing, murderous fire. We pray for all the workers, the volunteers, the civic officers, and all the spiritual leaders serving in this dark hour of an eerie doom’s day.
Please sustain everyone related to the Paradise Alliance Church where we held class for Right On Mission last year. Help them, God. Help us to do our part to help folks recover.
Lord, we dread the thought: How much fire is on the way, scheduled for next year? Sober us, dear God. Help us to be sober and stop sinning (I Corinthian 15:34). Make us a people who pray (II Chronicles 7:14).
We pray for everyone right now in the flames in Ventura County and for all along the coast inhaling blackened smoke.
And, oh for all of us, to bow down to Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, who has overcome the world and reconciled creation back to God (John 16:33; Colossians 1).
In Jesus’ Name, Amen