Emotional toll of the deadly fire at Paradise

Two redwood trees were planted in the ground, a new lawn and stone patio transformed the once barren yard into a green refuge.

By Author  |  Published: 1st Aug 2020  4:18 pm

San Francisco: Almost two years since a wildfire swept through his mountain town and virtually wiped it out, Steve “Woody” Culleton got to put the final touches on his new home. Culleton, the town’s former mayor and councilman, was one of the first people in town to rebuild and moved into his new home last December.

Two redwood trees were planted in the ground, a new lawn and stone patio transformed the once barren yard into a green refuge.

“We’re happy,” said Culleton. “We’re totally home.” The landscaping marked the final chapter of a long ordeal that was captured in “Rebuilding Paradise,” a new documentary directed by Ron Howard about the aftermath of the most destructive wildfire in California’s history.

The documentary focuses on the colossal cleanup and rebuilding efforts after the Nov. 8, 2018, inferno that killed 85 people and destroyed some 19,000 buildings.

While it touches upon the failings of Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., the utility whose equipment sparked the wildfire, and changing climate conditions, the documentary mainly focuses on the emotional toll of rebuilding.

Howard’s team became close to displaced families going through the trauma of losing their homes, a police officer whose marriage fell apart under the strain of the crisis and school workers who fought to keep classrooms together.