Paradise recognizes the animals lost in the 2018 Camp Fire. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It’s been five years since the Camp Fire ripped through Paradise, forever changing the lives of thousands of people and reshaping the landscape for generations to come.

PG&E was held criminally liable for the inferno started by its equipment, which led to the death of 85 people.

Nov. 8, 2018, will be a date forever etched in the memories of those who were there that day. Today, the resiliency of the people who call this town home is evident with the continued rebuilding of homes and businesses.

Mom and I last month went to Billie Park—her first time since the fire. It was a place she and dad would regularly take visitors; out to the point where a fabulous view of the canyon unfolded.

It’s changed. Everything in Paradise has changed.

Cleo Reed, who lost her home in the 2018 Camp Fire, at the point in Billie Park in October 2023. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Now the views are evident at the start of the short trail. Gone are the trees that once obscured the view. One of the benefits of fire is views that were once blocked are now visible. But it also means walking to the point isn’t that special anymore. There isn’t that dramatic “wow” at the end of the trail because the canyon is now a constant on the walk.

In the park is a granite marker dedicated to the animals—domestic and wild—who were killed or injured in the fire.

In part it says, “For the missing creatures and all those who perished; whose light and love will always be cherished. The smallest sparrow, the majestic black bear, and the dog by our chair. Rest now until we see each other again. In my heart I will hold you my dear pet, my best friend.”

At the base of the structure are rocks people have painted as a memorial to their animal who is no longer here.

It’s just one of the many reminders in town of the loss.

This anniversary is a time to remember what was, acknowledge how far the people and town have come, and realize healing could be a lifetime journey.

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