SAN DIEGO (KGTV)— As Governor Jerry Brown visited Ground Zero for the Camp Fire in Paradise, a San Diego woman is doing the same. Corine Finnigan has more than 100 family members who lived in Paradise, and is now driving a truckload of supplies and cash to help them.
Her adult niece, Christine Blackburn told 10news about her harrowing escape through the flames. While the fire was inching closer to her car, she shot video. In it, you can hear her trying to comfort her four and six-year-old children, sitting frightened in the backseat. But this escape story is not unique to Blackburn. In fact, her aunt Cynthia Watts also narrowly escaped the fire.
“That was the most terrifying experience of my life,” Watts said.
The taxi driver lived on the East side of town, where the fire began. Immediately, she packed her car and drove south. Minutes later, she was in bumper to bumper traffic.
"I don't think we moved an entire inch in an entire hour,” Watts recalled.
She tried driving on the Northbound lanes on Skyway Street, but the jam never let up. So she abandoned her car and ran for her life.
"I just started hoofing it,” she said.
Watts walked and walked, passing rows of cars on the town's main road. She was even offered rides from drivers stuck on the road but refused. That was until she heard a co-worker screaming to get into his truck. The next thing she knew, they were in Chico, with absolutely nothing.
“Thank you, God. I got out of there, in the nick [of time],” she said.
This escape story is also not unique to Watts. In fact, she has nearly 100 extended family members in the small city, all who are now homeless.
"They have nothing,” Finnigan said.
Finnigan is Watt's youngest sister of thirteen children. While she moved to San Diego a few years ago, Finnigan spent most of her life in Paradise. This year, she and her husband Bryan are spending their 22nd wedding anniversary, driving up supplies to her family.
“We look like hoarders now, with bags and bags and bags of clothes, shoes, towel, and toys,” Finnigan said.
With the help of her friends and co-workers, she was able to collect the donations, including $3,000 in cash for the survivors in the Camp Fire.
One miracle, Watts said, was that everyone in their family managed to escape in time.
They are now homeless and even town-less, as Paradise is nothing like what it was a week ago.
But this family is thankful that they have each other.
"I'm not complaining, because I'm here. I didn't lose everything. I'm here," Watt said.
To extend your support to survivors of the Camp Fire, click HERE.
CAMP FIRE LATEST NUMBERS (11/15/18 5:30 PM)
BURNED: 140,000 ACRES
DEATH TOLL: 63
HOMES DESTROYED: 8,000+