BILLINGS- A California native now living in the Billings area said Monday she is heartbroken seeing her hometown of Paradise lost to wildfire.
Dana Lewis moved to Montana decades ago but grew up in the same town where the massive wildfire has destroyed homes and taken nearly four dozen lives.
Lewis says watching the remnant of the burned area on the news is devastating.
Paradise is where the deadly Camp Fire is burning north of Sacramento. As of Tuesday, the fire has already claimed 44 lives and forced thousands to evacuate.
Lewis has vivid memories that she says are now replaced with images of burned structures that she once frequented as a child.
She said Paradise is a small mountain town where fires happened but nothing so devastating has ever happened before.
Lewis wants others to know she is thinking of them in Montana. She said she herself was also evacuated from her home in Roundup during the Dahl fire in 2012 where she lost almost everything but her home. She wants friends in California to know her thoughts are with them during this time.
“Every time I see it on the news I bawl. I have several friends I’ve lost contact with. I don’t know if they’ve made it out. And then, when I listen to the news, and it says that there’s so many more that they found dead, it makes my stomach turn,” said Lewis.
Lewis says she broke into tears when she heard her high school was gone and that flames even took the town’s only McDonalds, a place where she hung out with friends.
The cause of the fire is still not yet determined, according to Inciweb, a database of fires nationwide.