“I just want to know he’s all right,” Bellairs said as he stood near his truck with tears in his eyes. Bellairs and his family are trying to avoid thinking the worst. They are staying in the local shelter but will soon be moving on due to his stepfather’s health’s issues. They hope Josh is camping somewhere. Maybe, they tell themselves, he just doesn’t have cell service.
But as days pass, their hope grows slim. Maybe he didn’t get the warning.
“That’s the fear,” said Bellairs’ stepfather, Charles Deaderick, “that he didn’t find out in time.” Last Thursday, as embers blew into Paradise in advance of the wind-driven wildfire that swept through these hills, residents had little notice and only a few minutes to gather pets and belonging and flee. By the time the fire moved on, it had destroyed more than 6,000 homes and 250 commercial buildings in less than 24 hours.