Grandmother’s ashes survive California wildfire
A family inspecting the ruins of their home burned to the ground in the catastrophic California wildfires were at first shocked and then elated to discover an urn containing their grandmother’s ashes was still intact.
“It was the miracle we needed,” Amber Paton told The Post on Sunday.
Paton and her mother Denise left behind all of their belongings when they frantically fled their homes in Paradise — the northern California town razed by the deadly blaze that has come to be known as the Camp Fire, named after Camp Creek Road, the location where the deadly fire started.
“It was pitch black and there were flames everywhere,” said Paton.
The 37-year-old mom-of-four was able to pick up her kids — two boys and two girls ranging in age from 5 to 10 years-old — from school and bring them to her mother’s home, where they piled into a car with other family members and Paton’s mother’s menagerie of three dogs, seven cats, five snakes and a turtle.
Meanwhile, Paton, who works with special-needs children as a teacher’s aide, rushed to her home on the other side of town, to pick up her cat, Gracie, named after her grandmother who passed away five years ago.
The next day, Paton’s mom realized she’d left something irreplaceable behind — her mother’s ashes.
Both of their homes burned down, so they assumed the urn would have been consumed by the inferno as well.
“She just lost it,” Paton said. “She was saying, ‘How could I forget her? I let her burn twice.’”
“I was telling her she did the most important job,” Paton said. “She got everyone out, that’s what moms do.”
But on the third day after the blaze, Paton’s brother, a volunteer firefighter, was driving in the area when he saw his mom’s home — with the fireplace and the mantle still standing and the urn sitting atop it, unscathed.
“In a sense, it kind of made us whole again,” Paton said.
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