On November 8, at 7:57 a.m., Gail Hedlund received a text she was hoping to be a birthday message from a friend or family member, instead it was the devastating notification informing her, and so many others, that Paradise was being evacuated.
Gail ran to the kitchen window and saw that the sky was eerily filled with dark grays and vicious oranges and reds. She woke up her husband, Howard, and told him they had to leave immediately. Gail only had her nightshirt on, so she threw on a pair of shorts and tennis shoes. She grabbed her purse and medication bag while Howard is grabbed his medication bag. Gail put the bags in their truck and called her 90 year old mother to let her know what was happening.
Meanwhile, Howard attempted to get their four cats into their carriers and out to the truck. But in the chaos, the eldest cat, who is blind and deaf, got scared and ran away. They both desperately try to catch her but they realize they could not stay.
They left with what they had and just prayed that they'd be back in a few hours or a few days at most. Once they made it to the Skyway they got stuck in traffic while the smoke continued to thicken around them making it seem like they were on an alien planet. Gail distinctly recalls the amount of noise there was - large propane tanks were blowing up and sirens were going off everywhere. By the time the Hedlunds got to the Spanish Gardens on the Skyway near Chico, they were nearly out of gas. Luckily, they are able to get gas and about 4.5 hours later they were at Gail's brother's front door.
They later learned that all of Blue Spruce Mobile Home Park and its newly rebuilt clubhouse has been reduced to ash. Gail describes the feeling of losing everything as if someone had cut her heart out with an old rusty butter knife.
The Hedlunds are selfless people and are caring for over 25 animals they helped rescue from Camp Fire. They are currently staying with Gail's brother but they are looking for a new place to call home. They'd love to be in a retirement mobile home park by New Years.
Please help the Hedlund Family by donating to their gofundme page.