Selfless Wildfire Survivors Help Those Affected by Devastating Mosquito Fire

by Shelby Scott

The Mosquito Fire has officially been declared California’s largest wildfire of 2022, now spanning more than 70,000 acres. Since the blaze broke out on September 6th, thousands of residents of Placer and El Dorado counties have evacuated. And considering its rapid growth, many left home with just the clothes on their backs. Now, survivors of the devasting 2018 Camp Fire—which killed 85 people, destroyed 19,000 residential and commercial structures, and just about leveled the town of Paradise—have stepped forward to aid evacuees of the Mosquito Fire. Many of this year’s evacuees are experiencing the same grief and tragedy Camp Fire survivors experienced several years ago.

Warren Thompson (71) is one of numerous California residents who survived the Camp Fire of 2018. Amid the Mosquito Fire, Thompson recalled the terror he felt fleeing the Camp Fire, escaping with just his cat Cinder.

“I know the feeling,” he said. “You have nothing. When you don’t have anything, everything matters.”

In empathizing with his neighbors, Thompson headed to the donation booth in Parking Lot B at Sierra College in Rocklin. There, those Californians fleeing the Mosquito Fire can grab items and materials they may have left behind while evacuating. Some include soaps, clothes, sanitary needs, blankets, diapers, and so on. Thompson himself was in charge of organizing a pile of donated jeans.

Derek Jones, a Mosquito Fire evacuee, now has a similar experience to share. As the Mosquito Fire continues to consume acres of California, Jones evacuated his home and took shelter at the college’s make-shift shelter. Like Thompson, he made sure to bring his furry friends, two dogs, to safety. In addition, he brought along their blankets, kennel, food, and leashes. While Jones and his neighbors have found relative safety for now, all they need to do is look to the northeast to see the smoke from the wildfire nearing their homes.

Mosquito Fire Evacuees Dependent On Each Other to Maintain Morale

Though Derek Jones is one of numerous Mosquito Fire evacuees, he’s doing what he can to keep his, as well as his friends’ and neighbors’, morale up.

According to The Sacramento Bee, Jones is doing what he can to help out at the temporary shelter. His regular duties include bringing meals to those with disabilities that make it difficult for them to leave their cars and shelters, as well as providing gas, ice, and, on occasion, cigarettes.

“We’re going all the way to make sure [fire evacuees are] just as comfortable here as they were at home,” Jones said.

Other California residents came loaded down with food, clothing, and even games. Lynda Hogge, both a retired EMT and wildfire survivor, says she’s endured four house fires since her childhood. Recalling the experience, she said, “It’s hard, because once you do get to go back, you’re going back to something very devastating…You lose the memories, everything — everything’s torn away. The sense of loss is unimaginable. It really is, and my heart goes out to all these people.”

Nevertheless, she emphasized that surviving is important above all else. Thompson, who returned to his flattened home devastated following the Camp Fire, shared the same sentiments while sharing his story with others experiencing similar tragedies.