PARADISE, Calif. — Brad Weldon grabbed a garden hose as the Camp Fire approached his house, spraying water to keep the flames at bay and protect his disabled, elderly mother inside.
With fire on all sides, he went from one hose to another. When there were no hoses with water left, he picked up a bucket and started scooping water from his above-ground pool.
He had stayed in Paradise, California, to protect his 92-year-old mother, who is blind and was unwilling to leave.
With the help of a friend who is his mother’s caregiver, Mic McCrary, Weldon fought the flames from the Camp Fire.
“There was times we were laying on the ground pouring the water on ourselves so we didn’t burn,” Weldon, 62, said.
Did he ever think he was going to die?
“Oh yea, of course, quite a few (times). Quite a few,” he told CNN on Tuesday while looking at the damage to his yard and the horrific destruction to his neighbors.
The water to the hose lasted four hours. He had more water in the pool. Getting in the pool was a last resort in case the heat and the flames came too close, but they ended up only needing it for the buckets.
The house made it. He made it. Everyone is fine.
“It feels good to have it. I feel so sad for everyone though. Everybody I know lost everything,” he said while crying for his neighbors.
Five days after the record-setting blaze burned almost every home in town, Weldon, who is retired, is trying to stay positive.
Weldon is hopeful his home can serve in the aftermath as an anchor for people to come to while they plan for rebuilding or whatever comes next.
Weldon, his mother and McCrary are fortunate. Forty-two people died in the Camp Fire, and more than 6,400 homes are gone.
Their house is remarkably unscathed, save for some scorching on the back of the work shed.
Officials are still looking into the cause of the fire. They are investigating a report of a transmission line outage about 1 mile northeast of the town of Pulga, about 9 miles from Paradise.
While the blaze no longer appears to pose a direct threat to Paradise, Mayor Jody Jones is concerned about marshaling resources for cleanup and recovery so people can return to what’s left of their homes.
“My biggest concern is, do we have the resources to clean up debris and get safety hazards out of the way so people can get to their property ASAP,” she said.