American Red Cross in Greater New York Podcast

Disasters Untold: Camp Fire - Part 1

December 9, 2021

This episode is the first in a two-part series that looks back at the November 2018 Camp Fire that destroyed the small California town of Paradise and neighboring communities in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The wildfire, which took 85 lives, was the deadliest in California history. Part one of the series features four residents who helped saved lives amid the flames:

  • Kevin McKay, a school bus driver in Paradise, Calif., helped rescue 22 stranded students on his bus, driving them along gridlocked, dark roads as pockets of fire burned all around them. Ponderosa Elementary School teachers Mary Petersen Ludwig and Abigail Gerspacher-Davis assisted during the journey, helping to reassure the kids and using torn, dampened pieces of a T-shirt as improvised breathing masks for the children. All the students safely reunited with their families.
  • As the Camp Fire intensified, Allyn Pierce, a local ICU nurse at Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, worked tirelessly to help evacuate the hospital, including those with the most critical needs. After the last patients left the facility, Pierce and several colleagues evacuated in his truck. In the middle of his journey, Pierce drove back to the hospital site, amid the smoke and flames, and helped build a makeshift emergency room in the parking lot to treat new patients who found themselves stranded by the fire with nowhere else to go.

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Producers: Michael de Vulpillieres and Chi Kong Lui
: Michael de Vulpillieres 
Editor: Chi Kong Lui
Writer: Barbara Gaynes
Support: Olivia Kozlevcar and Matthew LeCorps
Photo: Daniel Cima

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