Nat Geo(LOS ANGELES) — The Camp Fire is remembered as one of the most destructive wildfires in California history. The fire left the close-knit community of Paradise, California charred within minutes.
The fire that ripped through towns in November 2018 is now the center of a new National Geographic documentary called Rebuilding Paradise. Directed by Ron Howard, the documentary respectfully goes through the town of Paradise and follows survivors through the year, as they struggle to rebuild.
Michelle John, a school superintendent in Paradise who lived in the community for 30 years, is one of the survivors who shares her experience with the documentary and recalls that fateful day.
“It was just the perfect storm and the first thing you have to think of is life,” she tells ABC Audio. “You forget about property, you forget about everything. You’re just saving people’s lives.”
Woody Culleton, a former mayor of Paradise, moved back into his rebuilt home in late 2019 with his wife. He praises Ron Howard’s ability to tell the story of Paradise and capture the strength of the small town, and says the documentary held importance for him personally.
“I hope people enjoy it and learn from it. For us personally, myself, my wife, my daughter, it has been a healing experience,” he explains.
In an interview with Good Morning America this week, Ron Howard shared the reason he decided to film this documentary.
“My mother-in-law lived the last five years of her life in Paradise, that’s a town that I knew,” Howard explained. “Our team and us, we just started talking about … can that town even come back from that? What would rebuilding Paradise really be? And the answer was to go see.”
Rebuilding Paradise opens in select theaters and virtually July 31.
By Dana Schaeffer
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.