from our partnerFaithwire
written byWill Maule
More than 30 people so far have been confirmed dead as a result of the fierce wildfires that have been ripping through both ends of California in recent days. In addition, over 200 people are missing, as the flames continue to devastate rural properties and leave residents homeless and heartbroken. In some instances, however, miraculous escapes were possible.
When Paradise for Chico resident Joe Allen sped through the flame-flanked roads in a bid to evacuate his local area, his 3-year-old daughter was understandably distraught. The scene was something out of a horror movie, as the inferno raged all around the family vehicle and threatened to block them from finding safety.
“There’s so much fire here. We’re gonna get on fire,” daughter Olivia can be heard saying on the video, as reported by NBC News.
At this point, sensing his daughter’s distress, Joe begins to sing the words, “Baby, it’ll be alright,” to keep her calm.
When he finally scrapes by the blazing flames, Olivia shouts out in delight, “You did it! You did it!”
“We did it together,” Joe responds.
According to NBC, Olivia celebrated her third birthday that evening. Her mother told the news outlet that the terrifying incident reminded her family what is most important in life.
The Camp Fire is one of three deadly infernos currently wreaking havoc in the state of California. Almost the entire town of Paradise has been completely bulldozed by the fire.
“The town is devastated, everything is destroyed,” Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean said. “There’s nothing much left standing.”
Many celebrities have also been affected by the fires, with pop star Miley Cyrus losing her home to the relentless blaze.
Completely devestated by the fires affecting my community. I am one of the lucky ones. My animals and LOVE OF MY LIFE made it out safely & that’s all that matters right now. My house no longer stands but the memories shared with family & friends stand strong. I am grateful for
— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) November 12, 2018
“Machine Gun Preacher” star Gerard Butler was also affected, losing much of his property to the fast-spreading flames. On Twitter, Butler called it a “heartbreaking time across California,” and posted an Instagram story in which he said that his house was “half gone.”
Returned to my house in Malibu after evacuating. Heartbreaking time across California. Inspired as ever by the courage, spirit and sacrifice of firefighters. Thank you @LAFD. If you can, support these brave men and women at https://t.co/ei7c7F7cZx. pic.twitter.com/AcBcLtKmDU
— Gerard Butler (@GerardButler) November 11, 2018
Other stars affected include Lady Gaga, Orlando Bloom and Kim Kardashian.
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Miles-long traffic jams have prevented many from fleeing the affected areas. Lauri Kester, a caretaker for the elderly in Paradise, told The New York Times that she feared for her life after getting stuck in a jam as she sped away from the flames.
“There were cars behind, cars in front and fire on both sides,” she said. “I thought, ‘This is not how I want to die.’”
“We are really just in the middle of this protracted weather event and this fire siege,” explained Chief Ken Pimlott of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection at a news conference Sunday night.
Paradise Mayor Jody Jones is a traffic specialist who had supposedly prepared evacuation procedures in the event of such a catastrophic natural disaster.
“We actually practiced this about a year and a half ago,” she said. But when it came time to leave, all hell broke loose, with panic, fear and a lack of public organization.
“I don’t know that you could build the infrastructure to evacuate an entire town that quickly,” Ms. Jones admitted. “I just don’t know if that’s possible.”
The drive from paradise to Chico, she said, was normally a brief 20-minute dash. At the weekend, it became a four-hour test of survival, as flames tore down each side of the road.
In total, officials estimate that a staggering 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the fires.
Continue to pray for those affected, and for the fire departments who continue to fight back against this powerful inferno.