Nov. 8, 2023, marks the five-year anniversary of the Camp Fire in Butte County, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. The fire started when a faulty electrical transmission line ignited. The flames were fanned by high winds and spread quickly. What started as a small blaze forever destroyed a town and not only altered the landscape but the lives of everyone impacted by this disaster.
According to Cal Fire, the Camp Fire:
• Caused at least 85 civilian fatalities
• Injured 12 civilians and five firefighters
• Spanned an area of 153,336 acres
• Destroyed more than 18,000 structures
• Destroyed about 95% of the structures in the towns of Paradise and Concow
The fire had an impact on hospitals around the region. Most significantly, Adventist Health Feather River Hospital was heavily damaged and is now closed. Hospital capacity decreased because beds were taken out and never replaced. Primary care in that area is not as accessible as it was before the fire.
Nov. 8, 2023, also marks the anniversary of my family’s move to California. While my kids were initially excited about the move, they quickly saw the impact of this natural disaster. Classmates at their new school had relatives moving in with them because their houses had been destroyed. School was canceled for a week because the air quality was so poor from the massive smoke clouds pouring from the fire. This just goes to show how a major fire can have an impact throughout the state.
It’s times like these when we must remember to work together before, during, and after disasters. As we have learned in Simon Sinek’s, “The Infinite Game,” the concept of existential flexibility is important to having an infinite game mindset. We can’t predict where and when the next major challenge is going to pop up, but hospitals must stay prepared to always serve their communities.