As the Camp Fire began moving swiftly through Butte County last November, terrified residents dialed 911 to report what would ultimately become California's deadliest and most destructive wildfire. KTLA sister station KTXL in Sacramento obtained audio of some of the first 911 calls police in Paradise received when the fire broke out.
The dispatch center received its first call about the fire at 7:07 a.m. on November 8. It was transferred to Cal Fire as the person's call began to break up.
"There's a fire. This is back in Concow," the person told the dispatcher.
There was only one dispatcher on duty that day. As the phone calls flooded in, more dispatchers were brought in to answer them.
7:08 a.m. - The Second Call
CALLER: Um, you might have already got this call but there’s a fire in Concow and it’s rippin’.
CALLER: Um, hi. We’re a resident on Dean Road in Paradise. We need to know where that fire is.
911 OPERATOR: As far as I know it’s north of Concow. OK, so far we’re not in any danger.
CALLER: It’s north of Concow?
911 OPERATOR: Yes.
CALLER: We’re not in danger?
911 OPERATOR: Not so far. Thank you.
CALLER: Yes, there is a fire in Paradise. Do you know about it?
911 OPERATOR: Ma’am, it’s not in Paradise, it’s north of Concow up off of Highway 70, OK?
CALLER: Um, I don’t know if anybody has called it in yet but there’s a fire up here.
911 OPERATOR: Yeah, it’s north of Concow up off of Highway 70.
CALLER: OK, we live in Concow and we have ashes falling on us.
911 OPERATOR: OK, well they will let you know if you need to evacuate.
CALLER: I’ve got to find out where this fire is in Paradise. I have children in school.
911 OPERATOR: It’s not in Paradise, ma’am. It’s north of Concow up off of Highway 70.
CALLER: OK, I’m so sorry, thank you.
CALLER: I’m in Paradise and I’m wondering why all the smoke right outside our canyon view.
911 OPERATOR: OK, it is north. There’s a ... there’s a fire that’s building north of Concow up off of Highway 70. We’re just downwind from the smoke right now.
CALLER: It’s right over my house. OK, um, where do I get further information?
911 OPERATOR: Um, actually they haven’t set that line up yet. As soon as we have it I’m sure it will come out on the media as well as everywhere else. But I don’t have anything for further info. Check your online and TV.
CALLER: It’s north of Concow? OK, well, it’s coming, like, toward my property.
911 OPERATOR: The wind is blowing. If you think you’re in danger go ahead and evacuate, otherwise they’ll advise you, OK?
CALLER: Hi, I was just calling to report a fire and make sure it’s already been reported. Looking out our backyard it looks pretty ... it's kind of close.
911 OPERATOR: Where do you live?
CALLER: On Clark Road, on the top of Clark Road in Paradise.
911 OPERATOR: It’s to the east of you or where the sun comes up?
911 OPERATOR: That’s been reported. That’s off of Highway 70 near Pulga.
CALLER: It's off of Highway 70 near Pulga? OK, it looks a heck of a lot closer than that. Thank you so much.
CALLER: There’s a fire in Paradise.
911 OPERATOR: No, there’s not a fire in Paradise. There’s a fire north of Concow up off of Highway 70.
CALLER: I live on Roberts Road. I’m looking out my front door and there is a huge fire very close to me.
911 OPERATOR: There is a fire that is north of Paradise, north of Concow off of Highway 70. OK?
CALLER: It’s north of Paradise? This looks close. I can see that it’s orange.
911 OPERATOR: Ma’am, unless you see flames then it’s just the sun shining through it.
CALLER: Is there a fire up here?
911 OPERATOR: There’s one to the east and one to the west of us, at this point there’s no evacuations and we’re aware.
CALLER: OK, but I live on Pentz Road. Can you tell me how close it is to Pentz Road and how quickly I should get ready in case there’s an evacuation?
911 OPERATOR: Why don’t you prepare. But there’s nothing right now, it’s near Pulga, which is way up Highway 70.
CALLER: Thank you, you answered my question. I appreciate it, bye-bye.
911 OPERATOR: Paradise police. Paradise police.
911 OPERATOR: Yes. How can I help you?
CALLER: Yeah, I’m just wondering, are you aware of any major fires near Paradise?
911 OPERATOR: Really? Yes. Not near Paradise. There’s a fire north of Concow up out of Highway 70.
CALLER: Yeah, I’m on Rivendell Lane in Paradise and I just walked outside ...
911 OPERATOR: There’s a lot of smoke from a fire that's north of Paradise, north of Concow out of Highway 70, OK?
CALLER: OK. Even though it’s black right above my house?
911 OPERATOR: Do you see flames?
911 OPERATOR: OK. That’s smoke from the fire, OK?