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Nicole Kowalczyke of Chico heard from friends a wildfire was burning nearby, and at about 9 a.m. Thursday, she stepped outside to look at the smoke.
With the Camp Fire raging only 10 miles away in the Feather River Canyon, the sky to the west was pitch-black with swirls of purple and ash falling from the sky.
“It looked very ominous … and then this piece of paper came from nowhere,” Kowalczyke says. “It was kind of like a leaf … how they fall down.”
The paper was singed, covered in type and clearly looked like a page from a book.
“I thought, ‘If this is a piece of the Bible, this is going to be crazy,'” she said.
On closer inspection at the words, she quickly realized it was a page from some sort of fire manual as it includes information about fire hose pressure.
The former student of Chico State snapped a photo and shared it in social media, as she assumed nobody would believe her if she told the story.
The image of her holding the burnt paper is now going viral and becoming a symbol of a wildfire that devoured more than 5,000 acres in only three hours, leading to the evacuation of thousands.
“At first glance, it looked like a holy message,” tweeted @dudewtfnow.
“That’s a poignant photo, ” shared @myauthorpaige.
“It’s a divine hose pressure commandment!” chimed in @jacktorrance182.
The two towns of Pulga and Concow and most of Paradise were evacuated shortly after the fire started about 6:30 a.m. Patients at the Feather River Hospital were evacuated to Enloe Medical Center in Chico. A retirement home was also evacuated.
Cal Fire reports: “This Fire is very dangerous, please evacuate if asked to do so!”
The National Weather Service reports the smoke has drifted as far south as Sacramento and is expected to reach the North Bay later Thursday.
An evacuation shelter is set up at Oroville Nazarene Church, 2238 Monte Vista Ave. The Neighborhood Church in Chico at 2801 Notre Dame Blvd. and the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds are also welcoming evacuees.
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