The Butte Strong memorial pays tribute to 2018 Camp Fire that tore through Paradise. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Charred trees, foundations without a building, chain link fencing around the hospital, businesses that no longer exist. The reminders of the 2018 Camp Fire that incinerated Paradise are everywhere.

Then there is the memorial to all those who survived and the 85 who lost their lives.

It is on the back edge of the parking lot at Magalia Community Church. This is one of the towns that was also severely impacted by the PG&E caused fire, but which seldom gets much attention.

While the memorial is intended to last generations, two vinyl tents are sad reminders that help is still needed for many of the survivors. A Paradise resident said this is where charitable giving still takes place, even with the five-year anniversary coming up this fall.

The Butte Strong tribute is aptly placed so Sawmill Peak, one of the natural icons of the area, is integral to the structure. The vista here is one of hope, one of resiliency, one of strength.

The river rock foundation seems to honor being on the ridge above the Feather River.

The 14 layers of red brick appear to mark how the area is rebuilding itself one layer at a time.

One plaque lists the name of those who died. The other tells the story of how this region was settled, including the famous 54-pound gold nugget, and many details about the fire.

The fire consumed nearly 240 square miles, destroyed 18,804 buildings, and became the state’s largest hazardous material cleanup.

The plaque ends with: “… Paradise isn’t gone; it’s strength and spirit persist within the surviving community and it’s deep, fireproof roots. Day by day, life and beauty will be restored to this special place.”

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