"I HAD THE THINGS IN MY CAR... AND NOT MY MOM."
Christina Taft made a choice the day Paradise burned down.
She chose to run for her life. Now she regrets it.
“I was scared of dying because it just looked so bad outside,” Taft said. “I just wish I had done something different. I think about it every day wishing I could just you know reverse it all.”
Taft’s choice that day saved her life, but she couldn't convince her mom to leave the house with her.
“I had the things in my car and the car and not my mom,” Taft said. “That really hurts. It's like why didn't she get in? And why didn't I stay longer?”
After she escaped, Christina Taft tried over and over to get someone to go to the house to help her mother Vicki.
She figured she could call 911 for help, but there were only two dispatchers assigned to field calls that day. As the fire began to consume the town, thousands of calls poured in — activating an emergency spillover system so neighboring jurisdictions could answer.
When Christina got through, she learned the rescue she’d hoped to order for her mom didn't look likely.
“They told me they weren't getting anyone you couldn't get out themselves,” Christina Taft said. “That really shocked me and upset me. I was like, ‘my mom's gonna die now.’”
Is mom alive?
Christina could only wonder as the smoke plunged the town into an unearthly blackness.
The Camp Fire consumed the whole town between breakfast and dinnertime.
Sixty six-year-old Vicki Taft became another name on the list of hundreds missing.
Christina Taft’s mind kept going back to the choices: her own choice to leave, her mom’s choice to stay.
“We were fighting, so it was a really bad way to leave it,” Christina Taft said. “I didn't want to die and she wasn't going to listen to me.”
Words fail to describe the futility of this fight.
To say that time was “precious” at this moment doesn't do it justice. Time was life itself.
And yet, the two wasted a lot of it this way.
“For a whole hour, there was a lot being said,” Christina Taft recalls. “I think she was waiting for an authority.”
The authorities had decided already, but Christina and Vicki didn't know it.
The entire hour they spent fighting about whether to leave, their house was already under a mandatory evacuation order. But the order never reached them.
And they weren't the only ones.