One year after Paradise burned, hundreds of people gathered in the parking lot of a former bank building in the Northern California town to pause for 85 seconds — one for each person who died.
The Rev. Richard Yale moved quietly through the crowd, wearing a blue vest with the words “emotional wellness volunteer” across the back. A man reached out and grabbed his shoulder as he passed by.
“I said, ‘How are you doing?’ He said: ‘I’m alive, thank you.’ And that was all he needed,” Yale said.
The crowd held onto each other for most of the ceremony on Friday morning. Holding hands, touching shoulders and remembering the terrible day when the most destructive wildfire in California history — dubbed the Camp Fire — swept through their town and destroyed roughly 19,000 buildings.
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