Five years ago November 8th, Magalia and Paradise were devastated by one of natures worst disasters. 85 people lost their lives. Over 18,000 structures, homes, and business were completely burnt to the ground.
image of burnt structure remains

The population of Paradise before the fire was around 26,000. Fewer than 4,000 homes have been rebuilt since the fire. Only roughly 450 businesses have come back to Paradise. Before November of 2018 there were over 12,000 homes and 1,500 businesses.

On the night of the fire Pastor Doug, in Magalia, held his phone out the back of the church and took a picture of the approaching flames. Several people from the church tried to evacuate hours before but the traffic backed up to nearly a standstill. Retreating back to the safety of the church they awaited the next morning. I have spoken to Doug many times about that night and I have no words to explain it to you and honestly neither does Doug.

Millions and millions of dollars were poured into the effort of fighting the fire and dealing with the aftermath. It can be said that arguably it is one of the most costly manmade disasters in the world.

While the fire was unfolding in our backyard it was apparent that there were needs to be met. So I write this email to all of you who backstopped High-Hand in our collective effort to make a difference. For me, the one thing that remains above all, is how powerful all of you were during this time. You selflessly gave, volunteered, supported, and time after time, again and again you rose to the occasion.

We asked for blankets and sleeping bags, you provided.

image of blankets and sleeping bags

We asked for milk that was going to be distributed to the different non profits in Chico that housed fire victims, you provided.

image of crates of milk

We needed refrigeration to store food and open up a kitchen to feed the masses. Jim from Produce Express provided a non-operational refrigerated truck and towed it up for Pastor Doug.

image of a refrigerated truck

Next came a food hall

image of the food hall

Tony from Celebrations provided a tent and the warmth of heaters so that home cooked meals could be provided.

image of pallets of water and supplies
Your donations allowed for the purchase of no less than 20 semi truckloads of bottled water that were delivered by Teichert Corporation on their trucks to Pastor Doug in Magalia. Thank you Jeb and Paula for making this happen. Through Teichert’s contacts, a forklift was donated to to unload the pallets as they arrived. While the mountain was smoldering you were able to set up a kitchen on the parking lot at the church in upper Magalia. Doug was able to call Jim at Produce Express and in real time order fresh produce, meat, and dairy that was then delivered to Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico for refrigeration. From there Doug’s volunteers would drive down in pickup trucks on a daily basis and transport food up the mountain. You most likely didn’t realize but your donations were providing three meals a day to people greatly in need in the dead of winter. In a matter of days, you helped setup refrigeration, a kitchen, tanks of propane, a heated tent with seating for 300, semi truck loads of bottled water, and home cooked meals. Christmas dinner was served on the mountain, it was amazing, I wish you were there.
image of a burnt car
Your countless donations, support, and love provided so much. Many times I wish that all of you could see the impact that it was having. Your donations and kindness allowed for goods and services to flow effortlessly and freely straight to those most in need.
image of handing out gift cards

We met so many incredible people

image of a man and his dog

A military veteran named Joe

image of a local resident

Luke and Colton

image of man and son on cots

And then there was Rene

image of a child

Your donations provided semi truckloads of hay to Cowboy 911 to feed the animals still alive on the mountain.

image of bales of hay

You filled this barn up in Oroville, time after time for distribution.

image of bales of hay

You created a hay and pet food distribution point at Pastor Doug’s church, outside the same door Doug took the picture on that horrifying night. I can assure you your efforts went straight to the heart of the problem.

Cars were purchased

image of a used car

Cars were repaired

image of a broken down car

Cars were donated

image of people donating car

Your kindness allowed us to meet the needs right were people were at.

image of woman in car receiving donations
image of man pouring water over burnt plate
image of a mother and daughter
image of a family

The Gentleman Behind the Curtain

There was another tragedy unfolding behind all those who lost their lives and were displaced from the fire. My daughter and I identified him as the man behind the curtain. We got to know him. He was offered everything and took nothing. Every time I saw him, I carried my tomato bag. My tomato bag never left my side, I carried it everywhere. The bag held countless gift cards and all the things I needed to hand out to solve different types of needs. I carried it in and out of my truck, from my truck into my house. When at work, I carried it from office to office and place to place. That bag is where I kept your donations, your kindness, and your love. That is what we handed out together.

This gentleman was offered numerous times items from that bag. He never took a single thing. My daughter and I got to know him and we sat with him and talk one day. He evacuated the fire to the shelter. He said that he was trying to get a hold to his medical provider so he could try and schedule a procedure he needed for his heart. He never asked for money or a single tangible item. The only thing he asked for was for a cell phone to make some phone calls to get back on track for his procedure. That is the one item that you were able to provide him. Perhaps out of all the people I met and all the people that you helped, this man made the biggest impact on me. Sadly and unfortunately he was a victim of collateral damage. I am told that he passed away having not been able to connect up for his procedure. I pray and hope that information is wrong. The sad part about the fire is not just about the victims, but the many people who atrophied in the days after the fire. Will you please take a moment to listen to the man behind the curtain.

Miracles Beyond Tragedy

image of goose swimming

Natures amazing response

image of flower growing among burnt remanants

I wish you could have witnessed this family’s new beginnings.

image of a family approaching their U-Haul trailer

It was hard to say goodbye to new found friends at the airport.

image of entrance to airport

I wish you could have met Alysa.

image of a group of people standing next to a tiny home

Your kindness provided funds to build 10 tiny homes. This amazing woman took this project on at an abandoned car lot in Oroville.

image of tiny homes

Welcome Home Luke and Colton

image of the front of a tiny home

A Powerful Image

image of a christmas stocking on a burnt out fireplace

Five years later this image has a huge impact on me. My daughter Tara was with me as we came across it on the way up the hill to deliver supplies. We stayed at this home site for almost an hour. The stocking was hung and in an eerie way it struck a cord of peacefulness. We walked around gently in the ashes. You could almost see the life that lived here. It was completely humbling to stand there.

In the coming days do me a favor. As we head into the holiday season think about the people around you. Hug somebody. Care for somebody. Smile at a stranger. Reach out and do something. Make a difference. Put others above yourself. Simply care. Ask yourself a question, do you really need it or does somebody else need it more? Ask yourself a question, what would Love do now?

Your support, love, kindness, and compassion that you showed during the Paradise fire made an impact on more people than you will ever know. We at High-Hand can not thank you enough for being our backstop and going on this journey with us.

With heartwarming gratitude,


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