What Happens When Wildfires Destroy Your Home

"I literally left one day to go to work and came back to nothing." California’s wildfires destroyed almost everything she owned. This is her advice to others still at risk.

Nowhere to go

Cami Bouchard's home in Castaic, California was destroyed because of the wildfires ravaging the state. One of the few things she has left is her phone — which she used to speak with Brut. The fire was ignited by an ember from the Tick Fire, which started in Santa Clarita, California. While mostly contained, it’s burned more than 4,600 acres, destroyed at least 29 structures,
including 23 residences, since it began Oct. 24, 2019.

“I'm still kind of in shock. I’m never… Going back there and even walking inside, I just, you know, you always think like it's never going to happen to me, you know? And then going in there, I still don't even know how to feel like there's really no words to describe it. Just walking in and you know, that smell like it's — You would think a house fire smells like a campfire or something like that. But no, it smells like burnt up electricity and burnt up insulation, and it smells like chemicals. And I never imagined it was going to be in the state that it was. Anyone that's in the fire area, I would say, have an emergency pack of things in your vehicle, ready to go, already in your car. Because I literally left one day to go to work and came back to nothing,” survivor Cami Bouchard tells Brut.

Meanwhile, more than 10 fires rage across California. The Getty Fire in Los Angeles is over 650 acres and has destroyed at least 12 homes. The Kincade Fire near San Francisco has scorched more than 75,000 acres and at least 200 structures — including 94 homes — have been destroyed. Bouchard and her roommates can’t go back to their house. They've been staying in hotels and hoping to get temporary housing via the Red Cross.