Adam by Colin Kelly


Rick hears his neighbor’s cat on his front porch.
But that's not what he finds when he looks outside.

Part of my story Adam is set in Paradise, California, an incorporated city in Butte County, California. It is located 15 miles east of Chico (the largest city in Butte County), 21 miles north of Oroville (the county seat), and 171 miles northeast of San Francisco.

As I completed writing my first draft of this novel, the town of Paradise was ravaged by the Camp wildfire. The fire got its name from Camp Creek Road near where it started on Thursday, November 8th, 2019, at about four a.m. Over 153,330 acres had burned, and the towns of Paradise and Magalia and nearby communities had been destroyed. There were 18,733 structures, including 13,672 homes and 5,061 other buildings, that burned.

The number killed in the Camp wildfire was estimated to be 85 people. Many couldn’t escape. Many died in their cars or other vehicles or when they were running on foot. All were trying to escape the flames. Many others died in their homes. Specialized cadaver dogs trained for use in fire areas assisted the searchers.

Over forty-six thousand residents were evacuated from Paradise and the surrounding towns and communities. The population of Paradise had been 26,503; Magalia, the second largest town in the fire zone, had a population of 11,310. These people lost almost everything: their homes, their vehicles, and their possessions. Many were retired. Most of those employed lost their jobs because the places where they had been employed had burned. Many lost pets. Most lost friends and relatives. Some lost children; some children lost their parents.

Many people who were evacuated had nowhere to go, nowhere to live. Some moved in with relatives outside of the area. Some moved out of state. Many of the homeless moved into temporary housing supplied by FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency).

The student population of Paradise and Magalia was about 6,700, including nearly 1,260 high school students (grades nine through twelve). Paradise High School survived the fire intact but was not usable because of the massive amount of wet ash on the grounds and buildings, and the lack of power and water and places for the students, teachers, and staff to live close to the high school. The two other high schools didn’t survive the fire.

The speed of the fire was breathtaking. The flames moved unimaginably fast at their peak, and swaths of fire the size of a football field moved across the area, rapidly destroying almost everything in their path.

This story isn’t about the Camp Fire nor — except  tangentially — the city of Paradise. Much of the story is set in Walnut Creek, a city with a population of 70,600 located 154 miles south-west of Paradise.

The story was written before the fire started. This brief prologue is included to provide the history that will remain a silent backdrop.

It’s also here to answer the question, “Why isn’t there more about Paradise and the fire?” That’s a different story that’s needed. Perhaps it will be written, someday, perhaps by someone else.

If you enjoy reading this story, please let me know! Authors thrive by the feedback they receive from readers. It's easy: just click on the email link at the bottom of this page to send me a message. Say “Hi” and tell me what you think about ‘Adam’ — Thanks.

This story and the included images are Copyright © 2019-2023 by Colin Kelly (colinian); the original image is Copyright © 2016 by Sabphoto | Dollar Photo Club #83917373. They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey's World website has written permission to publish this story and has licensed use of this image. No other rights are granted.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story may contain occasional references to minors who are or may be gay. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG (in a more enlightened time it would be rated G). If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don't want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don’t want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren’t supposed to be here, be careful and don't get caught!