Camp Fire survivor finds new home in Tucson

Finding a new paradise

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - It’s been four months since the Camp Fire tore through Paradise, California.

Thousands were left without a home or job to return to, forcing many to go elsewhere. That includes right here in Tucson.

Coordinates to old home in Paradise, CA (Source: KOLD News 13)
Coordinates to old home in Paradise, CA (Source: KOLD News 13)

Sarah Orsborn has a visual reminder of the blaze that upended her life.

She sees it every time she washes dishes. It’s a simple wood sign with the coordinates of the last place she called home.

The numbers trace back to her apartment in Paradise, where she and her daughter settled.

“It was just very easy to find where stuff was," Orsborn said. “My daughter could give directions and she was 7.”

It was their home until Nov. 8 of last year.

That morning, Orsborn dropped her daughter off at school and headed to work.

“I got stuck in an area of traffic and ended up watching my (work place) burn down,” she said.

She worked at a Lutheran church and a photo of of the burning building went viral on social media. That day, Orsborn took a nearly identical photo.

Photo of Camp Fire (Source: KOLD News 13)
Photo of Camp Fire (Source: KOLD News 13)

She took many photos that day. Some show just how fast the flames spread.

Orsborn thought she might one day be able to return home, but that wasn't the case.

She is getting back into a routine here in Tucson. She chose the Old Pueblo for her family, as her parents recently moved from California too. She arrived in December with nothing but those photos.

“I have to remind myself that it’s only been that time and I don’t have to be adjusted,” she said.

Inside her apartment, you'll find reminders of inspiration.

Plaque (Source: KOLD News 13)
Plaque (Source: KOLD News 13)

“Collect moments, not things,” one decoration read.

That seems to have become her way of life.

“My bedroom needs a dresser," Orsborn said. “We’re at almost four months and I can’t convince myself that a dresser is worth purchasing even though I know I need it.”

In the meantime, she’s getting to know her new community.

She's thankful to be miles away from Paradise and from constant questions.

“To not worry about people asking me how I am today. ‘Do I need a toothbrush?,’" she said. "That was a question I got asked a lot for the month we were there. The people have a lot to do with that. There is kind of a small town feel to Tucson.”

It’s the same kind of feel she loved about Paradise.

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