A Jacksonville, Florida, man is trying to find help for his mother and brother who lost everything in the deadliest wildfire in California history.
His family is from Paradise, where teams are searching for more than 1,000 people.
Mark Hudson’s home in Paradise is now nothing but ashes.
“It’s just really surreal, all of it. It’s hard to even explain,” Hudson said.
Hudson said he woke up Nov. 8 and knew something was wrong.
“Went out back and saw the plumes of smoke coming my way,” Hudson said.
All he grabbed was his cat from his home. He then picked up his girlfriend and her two kids before hitting the road.
“I was terrified. Most scared I’ve been in my life,” Hudson said.
As the fire started to spread, he said, propane tanks were exploding
It was like "being in a war zone during the bombing,” Hudson said.
The road to evacuate was bumper-to-bumper traffic and plumes of black smoke were making it hard to even see.
“I couldn’t see a car three feet in front of me because of the smoke,” Hudson said.
The normal 15-minute drive to the closest town, took him three and a half hours. He said the heat from the fire melted the paint off the car.
“It got so bad that the flames got to where they were hitting the glass so hot on the windshield you couldn’t touch it,” Hudson said.
His brother, Jeff, said he also grew up in Paradise, but now lives in Jacksonville.
“It hits at the heart. All the iconic landmarks you grew up with and you look at pictures and they aren’t there anymore,” Hudson said.
Their mother also had to evacuate from her retirement home, which burned .
“They have to start all over,” Hudson said.
Family members said they are just taking it one day at a time, as recovery teams continue to search for more victims in their town.
“I don’t even know where to go from here,” Hudson said.
Hudson said his family is in a hotel and his mother is with her sister, while they all look for housing.
He said they might not be able to rebuild for about three years because crews have to remove toxic material in ground.
The family has a GoFundMe account.
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.