Chattanooga man's childhood home destroyed in California wildfire
A Chattanooga man's childhood home in Paradise, California, is gone. His parents who live there managed to escape before the fire engulfed their home.
John Westbrook hasn't seen the damage for himself, but he's starting to process what happened.
He lives here in Chattanooga, nearly 2500 miles away from Paradise. While his parents' home is gone, the memories from his childhood will always stay with him.
"That's a good one of my parents and then this is on the front porch. That's my other sister,” John Westbrook said looking at pictures on Wednesday.
They’re some of the few pictures John Westbrook has at his childhood home in Paradise, California. They're memories he's holding onto a little closer.
"Really, all of our memories that are printed, picture, art, poetry. My dad did a lot of writing. To think about all of that being gone is so startling that you really can't grasp it, I guess,” Westbrook said.
Westbrook's brother who lives in California walked up the driveway to look at the damage. All that's left is rubble from what used to be their parents' home.
Westbrook's 82-year-old father and 76-year-old mother escaped minutes before the fire reached their driveway. Two neighbors helped them.
"As they're getting in the car, the other women said you got to hurry the fire is on the street and they could see it coming up the street. So, they took off for Chico. So, it was very last minute. Barely getting out,” Westbrook said.
Four homes belonging to Westbrook's family members were destroyed in the fire. Westbrook is thankful everyone made it out alive.
"I think that's why the loss of things, even if they are precious memories is that really pales in comparison to knowing that they're fine and that they made it,” Westbrook said.
Joyous times in their living room and climbing trees in the backyard will still be remembered fondly over the destruction left by a massive wildfire.
"When you think back, you attach yourself to someplace. Hopefully, most people can have that experience to where they can attach to some home. When I think home, that's what I think of,” Westbrook said.
Westbrook has plans to head to Paradise soon.
He and his siblings are trying to raise money for their parents since they lost everything and to help with medical expenses for their father who is an amputee and Marine veteran.