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 Canyon businesses deal with aftermath of the Camp Fire

It is one thing to be thankful for surviving a disaster like the Camp Fire and yet another to survive the aftermath. Business owners in the Feather River Canyon realize that if the prevailing winds had come from the opposite direction on Nov. 8, that deadly fire could well have wiped them out, as well as all the other residents of the Canyon.

We have survived many large and furious fires in our little ditch, but nothing that compares to the speed and ferocity of this blaze. We no longer hear the phrase Martial Law, but it is a point of fact in the wake of disasters of this magnitude. Checkpoints are set up to validate all persons entering the affected area.

When Highway 70 was closed at the Greenville Wye on one end and Concow on the other, only residents and emergency personnel were allowed to pass. Joyce Lindahl runs the Twain Store and Skyline Roofing from Twain. She suffered the loss of trade from the closure, but also had to deal with employees being turned away. She had to take time to convince the powers that be to let her employees pass.

Initially getting deliveries of food and beverages was also halted until arrangements could be made. Finding the correct authorities to obtain permission was time consuming and frustrating. She felt the same heartbreak we all did for the people that lost their homes and/or lives in the fire, but bills still had to be paid.

Audrey Boswell of Caribou Corners had the same type of concerns. On Dec. 3, the owners were planning on an attempted re-supply to Chico in hopes they could get back through without having to make the circuitous trip around via Highway 32, which had opened to unrestricted traffic. The rumor currently in vogue was that Highway 70 would not be opened until the first of the year.

Fortunately Highway 70 was opened on that day at 3 p. m.

Belden fared better than most during the closure because many of the emergency construction workers were staying there. They were also eating at the restaurant, but after long hours of grueling work, they usually crashed. Still the lack of through traffic and problems with delivery trucks persisted. Once again arrangements had to be made to let some deliveries through.

Just before the Elephant Butte tunnel the first signs of the fire manifested. This consisted mainly of scorched vegetation along the slopes. As one continues down the Canyon the incidents of blackened trees becomes greater. The Thanksgiving rain stopped the fire at the tunnels with minimal fire damage until the western end of the Pulga Bridge. Then the true ferocity and destruction becomes evident.

The Rock House stands, at least the walls do. Scooters has survived amid massive destruction. Concow’s dome store and Yankee Hill Hardware are still there. Grand View is gone as are a few million feet of timber. The overall smell is “burnt.” Home sites are nothing but gray ash and the skeletons of vehicles are everywhere. Overwhelmed by fear and loss, this reporter went home to hold his cat.

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