The town of Paradise, California is a 865-mile drive from Gilbert, Arizona. But one family is creating a direct lifeline between the two cities during desperate times.
The Camp Fire has and destroyed entire neighborhoods in Paradise, a mountain community north of Sacramento, and at least 29 people have died in the fire. The town’s estimated 27,000 residents evacuated over the weekend.
One of them is Scot Rayl. He barely escaped.
“There was fire on both sides of the road, people crying and screaming. Propane tanks blowing up,” Rayl told 12 News. “There was ash and embers falling all over the cars and we were afraid we weren't going to make it out."
Rayl is staying with family members in Arizona. They aren’t just waiting out the fire, but organizing a food and supplies drive at the Gilbert chapter of the Midwest Food Bank. Arizona residents can donate plastic Ziploc bags of toiletries and boxes of nonperishable food.
Once donations fill a semi-truck at the food shelter, it will head to shelters near Paradise where evacuees are staying. The truck will make trips back and forth between Gilbert and California as long as there is a need for donations.
“It’s my town. I feel like I grew up there. I raised my kids and family there. I need to fix my town, bring it back to what it was,” Rayl said.
You can get more information on Midwest Food Bank's website.