Fire leaves path of destruction
Lodi natives return after losing home
After Dean and Schelley Tarbell — both Lodi High School graduates — lost their home in Paradise to the Camp Fire on Thursday, they returned to Lodi to stay with Dean’s parents.
“We’re just dazed and overwhelmed,” Dean said on Friday. “We’re safe, our boys are safe, but we lost our home, pets, everything.”
The sky was black and orange as Schelley drove her sons Jonas Tinsley, 14 and Manny Tinsley, 16, to school on Thursday morning, she said, and was at the local hospice center’s thrift store where she volunteered when she got a call to pick her sons up from school.
Schelley picked up Jonas, she said, and learned later that Manny had gone to his father’s house — her ex-husband — before evacuating as well, and lit candles when the power went out at her house.
“It was pitch black, you couldn’t see anything,” Schelley said. “A neighbor came over and when we went upstairs, the fire was right there. My neighbor looked at me and said ‘go.’”
Schelley threw a few clothes and a pillow into a suitcase and fled with her son at approximately 10:30 a.m., she said, updating Dean who was down south fulfilling his duties with the Army Reserves at the time.
Schelley was unable to bring her cats with her, however, and now fears the worst.
“I had three cats, they were my babies,” Schelley said. “All I could do was leave the door open and hope they made it out.”
“We’re just dazed and overwhelmed. We’re safe, our boys are safe, but we lost our home, pets, everything.”
DEAN TARBELL, LODI NATIVE STAYING WITH PARENTS
One of Schelley’s neighbor’s stayed behind to try and put out spot fires, she said, and informed her that her house had been destroyed by the fire, along with his house and most of the city.
“It’s all gone,” Schelley said. “The hospital basically went first, but they got everybody out.”
Dean and Schelley are also worried about their friends in Paradise, he said, keeping track of everybody to make sure they evacuated safely as well.
“God bless Paradise, all of those people are out of jobs. The high school made it and said they’re going to reopen, but to who? Nobody’s there,” Schelley said.
Although their house and most of their possessions are gone, Dean and Schelley are doing their best to stay positive, finding comfort in their Christian faith as they make plans to build a new home.
“We’re on an acre (of land),” Dean said. “We’re just going to rebuild and start again.”
“It’s done. The only thing we can do is try to move forward,” Schelley said. “I just hope one of my little kittens comes up to me when we go back.”
The Camp Fire rages through the town of Paradise in Butte County on Thursday. Dozens of businesses and home were destroyed as the fire moved faster than firefighters could react to it.
Dean and Schelley Tarbell, who lost their house and pets in the Paradise Fire and are staying with Dean’s mother in Lodi, talk about their loss in Lodi on Friday. Dean and Schelley are both Lodi High graduates.