As wildfires rage on in Northern California, the death toll rises to at least 31.
WDAY News spoke exclusively with a former Fargo woman who now lives in the heart of the blaze. Reporter Tyler Ziegler shares the heartbreaking story of Catherine Miyamoto's evacuation.
Even though Catherine Miyamoto lived in Fargo for more than 15 years, California has always been home, specifically, Paradise. Now, as she shares her story, Paradise is on fire and if it wasn't for a close friend, Catherine might be too.
The emergency alert system in her town failed for her. A friend called Catherine urging her to quickly evacuate. "As I was leaving I was looking at things on the walls thinking these are the things that can't be replaced," Former Fargo resident Catherine Miyamoto says.
She says there's a major issue with evacuating from Paradise. It only has two roadways out of town. Considering this is what drivers saw out of their windows, traffic wasn't moving smoothly.
"It got to a point where it was so black and you couldn't see anything and you couldn't really breathe very well. So, I was sitting there thinking I wonder if the tires are gonna melt, because we're not moving," Catherine said.
Back in Paradise, things are worse, leaving little room for hope when it comes to Catherine's home.
"I guess I'll be surprised if my house is still standing, I've kind of just assumed that with everything that's gone up it's not there," Catherine said.
She also assumes that if it wasn't for that phone call from her friend Catherine could've lost more than her house.
"She saved my life right, she saved my life," Catherine says.
Luckily they both made it out and now Catherine will get a chance to thank her. Catherine later told WDAY News that both her local fire department and a neighbor confirmed her house is completely gone.