Camp Fire impact touches IWV community

Camp Fire impact touches  IWV communityPhillip Cash and Tom Roseman of China Lake Mountain Rescue Group join hundreds of other search-and-rescue volunteers (and thousands of other emergency service personnel) to sift through the wreckage of the Camp Fire in Northern California. — Photo by Phillip Cash


As the fire that swallowed an entire Northern California community continues to rage, the effect of the most deadly fire in state history reaches even remote communities such as the Indian Wells Valley.

“I narrowly escaped the wildfire in Paradise,” Joyce Billings, a former phlebotomist at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital wrote to the News Review.

“My husband, mom, sister and uncle all lost our houses,” she continued. “FEMA says they can’t help until they physically see the house. The Red Cross told me that they cannot help, I should call FEMA.”

Family members are staying in Lincoln, but are seeking help from their former home. “We need food, pet supplies and propane to cook with. Please help us.”

Anyone wishing to help the Billings family can donate at

With tens of thousands displaced, Billings’ story is becoming heartbreakingly common in California.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), the Camp Fire has burned more than 150,000 acres so far, destroying more than 12,000 homes, killing nearly 80 people and leaving more than 1,000 more unaccounted for – making it the deadliest wildfire in California history.

Fire officials grimly report that the fire is only about 70-percent contained, and will probably burn for another week or more before it is extinguished.

But on the flip side of the emergent needs from victims seeking sanctuary and support are the volunteers who are placing themselves in the battle zone to provide support.

Among the local support providers are members of the China Lake Mountain Rescue Group.

CLMRG volunteers Phillip Cash and Tom Roseman left this week to join other search and rescue teams across the state to sift through the wreckage of the fire.

“More searching through the Camp Fire for the remains of those who perished,” Cash posted Monday on Facebook.

“Many homes are makeshift or just a camper van that was on blocks. Some people here clearly escaped with only their lives and now truly have nothing.”

Another refugee from the fire (who wished to remain anonymous) also shared her story with the News Review. (See related story, this page.) Additional details will be reported as they become available.

Story First Published: 2018-11-21