Camp Fire evacuees spend Thanksgiving in Santee

Posted at 3:33 PM, Nov 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 21:21:15-05

SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) - A Paradise family is thanking the San Diego community, after donations began pouring in for them following the deadly Camp Fire.

The Harrisons are currently staying with family in Santee after the fire destroyed their homes. With nothing to return to, the family said they may make San Diego their permanent home and have already started looking at schools for their teenage son.

"I don't think Thanksgiving could have come at a better time," said Emily Keith, who evaded flames while carrying the family's three pets and caring for her brother.

"I had to go up on sidewalks and into front yards and in between trees, and try to maneuver my way out of town," Keith said.

RELATED: Light rain falling on Camp Fire zone could hurt search effort

During the evacuation, the children were separated from their parents. At one point, their car caught fire and they were forced to run from the flames.

"It was a life or death situation, honestly," Haley Harrison said. "I was running down the road hoping that someone would stop."

The family made it safely to Chico nearly seven hours later. While they haven't been able to go back to Paradise, they've seen photos of their homes burned to the ground.

"My kids are safe. 18 years of stuff and memories we had in the house are gone but I don't care about that," Haley and Emily's dad Tyler said. "You hit the reset button. What else are you going to do?"

The Camp Fire has now claimed nearly three times as many lives and structures than any other wildfire in California history.

The Harrisons said the outpouring of support from people in San Diego has been overwhelming, and hope to somehow thank everyone who has donated to help them.

They said the community reaction has been one of the positive things to come from the tragedy.

If you'd like to help, a GoFundMe account has been set up for the family here.