The Camp Fire offered little time for those in its path to escape. The flames moved so quickly that many couldn’t escape. 48 are known to have died in the blaze, and many more are still missing. Those that did survive may have nothing left to go home to. Lee Brundige, a veteran of World War II is one of those.
Brundige, a 93-year-old from Paradise, California, drove his own car out of town during the evacuation. He was one of many evacuees who showed up for food at a make-shift hambuger stand run by volunteers. That’s where he met Tracy Grant.
“He called me the burger girl,” Grant told CNN. “It took us about 24 hours to convince him to follow me home.”
Brundige is one of many who have been displaced from Paradise. That town was completely burned. Many of the former Paradise residents are now 11 miles south of town, in Oroville.
All of the available places to stay are full, so many, including Brundige, are sleeping in their vehicles.
“I didn’t like leaving him there, but he’s very independent. So I made sure he had blankets and a pillow,” Grant told reporters. “I stayed with him until about midnight.”
The fire, though, was still moving. Brundige had to evacuate again. Grant was adamant, though, and “gave him no choice but to come with me.”
Grant learned more about how lucky Brundige was to have escaped. “He had no idea the fire was coming. He just happened to have his gardener there who started banging on his windows to wake him up.”
“We are more then positive his home is gone,” Grant says. “Even if it isn’t, the town will not be livable for a while.”
Now Brundige has a place to stay. He’s living with Grant and her boyfriend, Josh Fox. The situation is far from perfect, but it is safe from the fire.
And Brundige is fitting in. Grant has spoken with his son, and talked with others from Paradise who are close to the old vet.
“We found he has many friends and is loved by his community,” she says. “He can stay with us as long as he would like.”
“These two people are my saviors,” Brundige said.