The Fires of Paradise

California spends billions rebuilding burned towns. The case for calling it quits

The fires of 2019 have ravaged large swaths of California — and now that smoke has cleared, the residents are struggling to figure out what went wrong.

In the hours and days after the fires hit, residents of Paradise, which burned to the ground over the weekend, struggled to regain the sense of normalcy.

“We have lost everything, everyone has lost their home, everybody is homeless,” resident Jennifer Saldivar said shortly after the fire began.

But Saldivar has a plan to help the people she lost — and their neighbors — begin over again. “If they don’t come to us, there is nothing we can do,” she said.

A few days after the fires, more than 2,100 people packed a meeting at a community center in Paradise. Some had lost friends and family members and had come to show they, too, would not forget.

Some who had lost their homes attended in cars or on foot, some with their dogs. Many were here for a job fair in the community that will help those looking to get back on their feet.

The crowd included Saldivar, who had been preparing a letter to be sent to the governor to request more money for rebuilding.

It was a Friday, one day after the fire had killed her best friend, and she had lost her home in the fire. A reporter asked her if she felt like she had lost everything.

Saldivar sighed and said, “No, I have a way to go.”

But she had a plan.

In late November 2018, a little over a month after the blaze in Paradise, a fire killed her husband.

The couple and another woman built a tent home in their backyard behind their house. The women moved in about a month and a half after the fire and had lived there for almost a year.

They had lived in paradise for about a

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