“In the aftermath, some people are deciding to just begin new lives elsewhere. The pandemic and longstanding housing problems haven’t made the choices any easier.”
“The day Paradise burned, Aaron Singer was a skeptic. Then he saw the flames in his rearview mirror.
This was November 2018, and the Camp Fire, the most destructive wildfire in California history, was making swift and smoky headway through the Sierra Nevada foothills. It took fewer than four hours to rip through this town of 26,000 residents, reducing schools, businesses, and 11,000 homes into piles of smoldering ash. When Mr. Singer got the evacuation order, he believed it was another false alarm. But he peeled out of his driveway as flames licked his yard, making it out of town with minutes to spare.
Paradise was lost. Eighty-five people died, and more than 90 percent of its population was driven out. Two years later, about 4,000 residents have returned to its scorched earth to lay new foundations and test fate once again. Mr. Singer, who has spent the past 24 months preparing to rebuild his home, is among them.
Now he is having second thoughts.”