A woman driving out of Paradise, California on the day the Camp Fire broke out was on the phone with her daughter when she described people getting out of their cars and making a run for it, her daughter recalled Thursday.
“My mom is 70 years old and she couldn’t possibly outrun the fire,” Stacy Fuller said, recalling the conversation she had while her mother on Nov. 8. Her mother was behind the wheel of her car as flames were raging on both sides of the road.
Fuller's parents grabbed what they could and jumped in their cars along with Fuller's younger sister and her nephews and niece. She estimates they left their homes between 9 and 9:15 a.m. and took Clark Road out of town.
Her nephew riding in the passenger seat described how the family's car was moving inches at a time with flames on both sides of the road.
Fuller lives in San Diego but her first home was Paradise, a small mountain town where seniors tend to retire.
“Lots of pine trees, lots of hills,” Fuller recalled Thursday as she spoke with NBC 7 about the pain of seeing the devastation.
At least 63 people are dead and officials say they have a missing person list with 631 names on it in an ever-evolving accounting of the victims of the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century.
"There are not too many roads to get you out of Paradise," Fuller said. "The fire had started to the east so one of those routes wasn't an option anymore."
She sent her family texts advising them to leave the area as soon as possible.
“My mom and dad grabbed just a few things, medications,” Fuller said. “My mom grabbed her overnight bag. She had one kind of ready.”
But with three kids and three dogs to wrangle, Fuller’s younger sister, Jen Inman, prioritized her late husband Paul’s ashes. Her husband was killed last summer in a car collision.
The family grabbed “his urn,” Fuller said. “Because they wouldn’t want to leave without that.”
As they rushed to the main road out of town, fire surrounded the line of cars.
Her family told Fuller it looked like it was raining or snowing but that it was ash in the air.
“There were big chunks of ash coming down,” Fuller said. “Hot embers flying all over the place.
Her sister, father and mother were all in separate cars.
It wasn't until late afternoon Thursday that they started to see the sun in the sky.
Her family escaped with their lives, but her childhood home and her sister’s home were destroyed.
“She’s saying, 'Oh I should have grabbed more things,’” Fuller said of her sister. “There was just no time.”
Now, Fuller realizes that the only thing that matters is family.
She said she's tried to convince them to travel to San Diego where she can house them but her family is concerned they need to be close by to manage the loss of their homes and property.
She has posted an online fundraising page to help her sister and parents.
When asked about how her family will rebuild, Fuller can't imagine.
"If it's just a house," she said. "But it's everybody's houses. It's all of your friends, it's your neighbors, it's everybody you know."
Some 52,000 people have been displaced to shelters, the homes of friends and relatives, to motels — and to a Walmart parking lot and an adjacent field in Chico, a dozen miles away from the ashes.
The high number of missing people probably includes some who fled the blaze and don't realize they've been reported missing, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said. He said he's making the list public so people can see if they are on it and let authorities know they survived.