84°F
weather icon Mostly Clear

California residents seek refuge from wildfires with family in Nye County

Sharon Robinson-Schwartz, 70, of Oroville, Calif. was visiting her daughter in Tonopah in early November when the Camp Fire, the most destructive fire in California state history, broke out in the town of Paradise, though the blaze is also affecting several surrounding areas as well. Robinson-Schwartz’s home sits just blocks outside the mandatory evacuation zone.

As of about 8 a.m. Thursday, the fire had destroyed more than 8,700 residential structures and 260 commercial structures and was threatening 15,500 more structures. Sadly, 56 fatalities were being reported by Cal Fire (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) with three injuries; a list of missing persons released by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office also contains some 300 people.

Robinson-Schwartz, who has lived in the Oroville area for roughly five years, said she is planning to stay in Tonopah until the fire dies down due to respiratory issues.

Sharon was joined by her two sons, James and Thomas Schwartz in Tonopah, who evacuated the area following a warning from another family member in Paradise that they may need to evacuate. Sharon’s apartment in Oroville is within a few blocks outside the mandatory evacuation zone map from Cal Fire.

Sharon is staying with her daughter in Tonopah, Jeannie Newberry. James and Thomas are staying in another property in Tonopah that Newberry owns with her husband.

“At least we have the space for them; that’s a good thing,” Jeannie said.

The three now temporarily displaced by the fire, especially Sharon and James who are asthmatic, don’t want to return until the smoke clears.

Ami Head of Cal Fire said, “The smoke conditions are not good. It’s really smoky everywhere.”

According to Cal Fire, as of early Thursday morning, the Camp Fire is now 40 percent contained and had burned 140,000 acres.

Sharon said her boys collected some of her important things from her home in northern Oroville before heading to Tonopah. They were also able to grab Sharon’s cat and bring the animal to a safer place in Central Nevada.

“When they left, they were seeing, it was raining ash and the smoke was so bad,” Sharon said about what her sons saw when they left the area on Nov. 10.

The blaze began burning just a couple days before that on Nov. 8. The fire quickly became listed as the most destructive fire in California state history. Just over a year ago in October 2017, the Tubbs fire destroyed 5,636 structures and caused 22 deaths in Napa and Sonoma counties.

In the first two days of the Camp Fire, more than 6,700 structures were reported as a total loss by Cal Fire.

Despite the dangers, Sharon said she plans to return to her apartment when the fire is gone.

“I have a sister that has heart problems, and she owns a house in the area; so until I know my sister is safe, I’m going to stay close to her because I’m one of her caregivers,” she said.

Sharon said the last major event was when she was evacuated due to issues with what is known as the Oroville Dam. Roughly 188,000 residents were ordered evacuated in early 2017 after a hole in an emergency spillway was discovered, which, at the time, was said could lead to flooding the surrounding area.

Sharon said she hasn’t had any major issues with evacuation with fire before the recent fire keeping her in Nye County with family. Prior to living in Oroville, Sharon was living and working in Napa, though that was before the big fires that struck that area in 2017.

Sharon’s apartment back in Oroville is near several government buildings such as the sheriff’s office and Butte County Clerk-Recorders building.

“I’m hoping with all of them there, they’re going to make sure my place is safe too,” she said.

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

THE LATEST
Tonopah to be home to experimental hypersonic testing facility

Ambitious. It’s an apt word to describe Michael Grace’s vision for the future of his company, Longshot Space Technology Corporation, which, if all goes to plan, will build what he calls the world’s largest potato gun.

Pahrump man arrested for elder abuse

A Pahrump man wanted by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of elder abuse was arrested while attempting to purchase multiple vehicles at a Las Vegas car dealership, according to authorities.

Nye sheriff explains why you shouldn’t flee from the law

A man suspected of driving a stolen vehicle out of Las Vegas led Nye County Sheriff’s Office deputies on a high-speed pursuit into Pahrump on Monday morning, April 15.

Amargosa veterans honored with their own Quilts of Valor ceremony

The Nye County Valor Quilters are on a mission — to cover local veterans in the comfort of healing Quilts of Valor to honor the service and sacrifices they’ve made in the name of freedom – and now, these talented artists have started to expand their reach outside of the Pahrump Valley.

Vehicle in garage destroyed by fire

No serious injuries were reported after fire gutted a vehicle inside the garage of a home along the 2400 block of Zuni Avenue on Wednesday, April 10.

Need a good laugh? Join in a night of hilarious scholarship fundraising

Promising a “laugh-your-ass-off” night of hilarity and musical diversion, Sanders Family Winery is all set to host the Kiwanis Club of the Pahrump Valley Scholarship Fundraiser and its sure to be an amusing time for all involved.

$6.2M allocated to 10 projects

Nye County has earmarked about $6.2 million of its $12 million in Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund (LATCF) grant dollars for a total of 10 projects throughout the county.

GALLERY: Winners of the Pins & Needles Quilt Show

The Bob Ruud Community Center was transformed into a world of color and design during the 19th Annual Pins and Needles Quilt Show, a yearly event that offers a stage to fabric artists of all kinds while giving the community to chance to admire their array of masterpieces.

Nye County loans itself $5.78 million to shore up reserves

In an effort to shore up the financial reserves used to cover cash flow issues in the county general fund, Nye County is loaning itself $5.78 million.