Paradise Fire Pet Memorial: Remembering The Thousands Of Companions Lost

Posted by Megan Swinney
Paradise Fire Pet Memorial
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Pets lost in the Camp Fire will be forever remembered.  

California wildfires are a constant during fire season, prompting residents and pet owners always to be ready to go. The devastation the Northern California Camp Fire caused was felt around the country. But those who lived through the horrific fire in Paradise were hit the hardest, losing everything: family members, their homes, places of work, worship, businesses, and in many cases, their beloved pets.  The town of Paradise was forever changed by the deadliest wildfire in California's history.

Now, one woman hopes to bring closure to those whose beloved companions went missing or were lost with the Paradise fire pet memorial.

A November Wildfire

When the wildfire broke out in the small town in Butte County, California, evacuation orders could not be issued fast enough. Residents barely had time to throw themselves in the car, much less round up all of their pets. Evacuees had to search animal shelters and work with animal control to find their pets. A Facebook group was started for the fire victims to locate their pets. People would post pictures of their pets, hoping that they were picked up by first responders or seen by those returning to their homes.

Gina Schaeffer of Sacramento began the group as a way to bring the pets of Paradise home. It has been estimated that somewhere between 6,000 and 12,000 pets perished in the fire that's quick spread is partly attributed to climate change. The fire was started by electrical transmission lines that were owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG& E) that was over 100 years old.

Pets Memorial

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Schaeffer's group eventually morphed into a GoFundMe to plan and place a memorial for the pets who were lost in the fire. The group has been sharing stories and posting pictures for the last two and a half years. Schaeffer told KRCRTV:

"There are a few stories that stick out in my head. There is one little pup, a little terrier. She was found in her favorite chair after the fire. She didn't know where else to go she went to her safe spot. In another story, a dog was found with her owner trying to lead them out, and they stayed with their owner for the duration of the fire. Some of these beautiful animals are still missing, and I know these members are just heartbroken."

Pets were found in shelters in Magalia, Oroville, and Chico. Some even turned up in parking lots in town. A few were located by their microchip.

Schaefer has been working with Paradise Park and Recreation to get a memorial in place.  Helping her with the project is Paradise Animal Shelter Helpers (PASH).

In Bille Park, crews are getting the site ready for the Camp Fire Pets Memorial, looking out over the Butte Creek Canyon. The site will forever memorialize the sweet pets the people of Paradise lost. Schaeffer hopes the site will be ready for dedication in September 2021.

She also hopes to raise enough funds to put in a drinking fountain for pets at the park and plans on surrounding the memorial with rocks engraved with the names of the lost pets. The Paradise fire pet memorial will be a place for those who lost their companions to visit and remember.

For more follow us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page. 

READ MORE: Everything Your Pet's Disaster Preparedness Kit Should Include (Just In Case)

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Paradise Fire Pet Memorial: Remembering The Thousands Of Companions Lost