SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – On Wednesday, wildfire experts said the Northern California wildfire that has killed at least 48 is the deadliest in a century.
California officials said the fire burning in a rural area far north of San Francisco killed more people than any other blaze in the state's recorded history.
Federal officials have promised to help rebuild Butte County – including the town of Paradise, but it will take years before the area is the same again.
One third grade teacher, who escaped the deadly inferno, is now in La Mesa living with her relatives.
Robin Patterson grew up in East County. She moved to northern California several years ago.
On Wednesday, Robin shared pictures of her escape with News 8. The pictures were taken from the Paradise Elementary School last Thursday, the day the Camp Fire began.
“It kept getting blacker and blacker outside. Finally, the Sheriff came in and said, ‘you need to leave right now,’” she said.
Robin managed to get students out safely. Then she got into her car to try and escape the flames – all captured on video.
“I called my step-mom. She talked me through everything. The flames were on either side of us. At one point, it was just so smoky you could not see anything. Things were exploding,” she said.
Robin said she saw friends’ homes on fire.
“It just feels really unreal, still.”
Her home, which is about a 30-minute drive from Paradise, is still standing. Her husband, who is a Sheriff’s deputy, stayed behind to help out.
In the meantime, Robin and her dog Oliver will be staying San Diego with relatives. “It was really, really hard for me to leave and come here.”
Robin said she is grateful, however, to be alive. She admitted, “the worst part [is that] our school is not going to be the same place. We are super tight knit at that school. We are a family. We are probably not going to get to be that family anymore.”
Robin said the outpouring of support has been incredible.