'There Was No Fighting This Fire,' California Survivor Says

Firefighters with fire in background

Berry Creek was largely destroyed in what has become the deadliest fire of 2020.

September 14, 2020
The Associated Press (Brian Melley & Terence Chea) - Bloomberg

Berry Creek, Calif. (AP) -- John Sykes built his life around his cabin in the dense woods of Northern California. He raised his two children there, expanded it and improved it over time and made it resilient to all kinds of disaster except fire.

So when the winds started howling Tuesday and the skies became so dark from smoke that he had to turn on his lights at midday, he didn’t hesitate to leave it all behind in an instant before any evacuation order.

With the disaster two years ago in nearby Paradise, in which 85 people perished in the deadliest and most destructive fire in modern state history, still fresh on his mind, Sykes got his wife and a friend into his car and left with only a change of clothes each.

“All I could do is look in the rear view mirror and see orange sky and a mushroom cloud and that told me it was hot and to keep going,” Sykes said Friday. “It was a terrifying feeling.”



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