A woman with the last name “Hayes” was staying down the road from her hotel, but Keith paused. “I think it’s spelled differently,” she said.
Red Cross volunteers are also handing out forms at shelters in Chico for people to fill out and declare that they were safe. For 16-year-old Abigail Bell of Paradise, Thursday was both terrifying and never ending. Her uncle was missing. The two live together and are so close that he calls her his daughter and she calls him her dad.
When the town started to burn, Abigail was with a neighbor and managed to escape to a friend’s house in Marysville, 50 miles south. Her uncle, Darrell Medford, 66, was at their home on Hayes Lane. He was taking a nap but woke in time to escape and get out of harm.
Abigail tried to reach Medford, but the fire had reached their house and the phone line was dead. Listening to reports of the mounting casualties amid the loss of their town, and not knowing if her uncle had made it out, Bell grew frantic.