New mom Heather Roebuck escaped the deadly Camp Fire thanks for nurses, strangers and a homeowner. (Photo: abc10.com)
Flames from the Camp Fire in Northern California were overtaking the Feather River Hospital, and everyone was evacuated.
New mom Heather Roebuck didn’t believe she would survive.
Her husband and newborn daughter, the last born before the Paradise, Calif., hospital evacuation began, had fled before her. Roebuck was being transported by ambulance. She had only given birth a short time earlier by cesarean section, or C-section, and could not yet walk on her own.
““It was sheer terror,” Roebuck recalled to ABC10. The Camp Fire is the deadliest in California’s history. “They just stitched me up really quickly.”
They’d only driven a half-mile when the ambulance caught fire. Roebuck said the C-section had left her numb, and she couldn’t walk. With flames all around, she made what she believed was her last call to her husband.
“I realized I’m not going to make it. I told [him] on the phone, ‘I’m really sorry.’ That I just loved him and that I wasn’t going to be there with the kids.”
Everyone became firefighters
A pediatrician, who seemed to appear out of nowhere, had other plans. He placed Roebuck on a backboard and dragged her out into the dark street.
Paradise Fire Chief David Hawks soon showed up and was shuttling Roebuck and another ambulance of patients into the nearest house.
“There’s a dog door here that one of the paramedics made access to. We unlocked the garage, moved patients into this home and sheltered them in place,” Hawks told FOX40.
MORE: Dad sings to 3-year-old daughter to calm her as they drive through wildfire flames
Meanwhile, nurse Tamara Ferguson, who was riding in the ambulance behind Roebuck with other patients and was making farewell calls to her own family, witnessed something amazing.
Everyone who had been afraid they were dying moments before began fighting to say alive.
Everyone followed the fire chief’s orders.
“I see the paramedic on the roof, spraying down the roof,” Ferguson told ABC10. “I see someone over here with a hose filling buckets. Chrissy is sweeping, someone with a shovel, I picked up piles of brush and cleared them to the road.”
The homes on either side each of the house were burned in the fire. The home Roebuck and other Feather River Hospital ambulance patients occupied only had a burned fence.
Roebuck eventually went home to her family, including new daughter, Halley Ellen Harles.
Halley Harles was the very last baby born at Feather River Hospital in Paradise. Her mother, Heather, had just had a c-section when they had to evacuate. “That minute that I saw her I thought was going to be the only time I ever saw her.” #CampFire#latenewstonightpic.twitter.com/sQCQh6gTsz
‘They saved our family’
Roebuck is grateful to the surprised homeowner, Desiree Borden. Borden had already fled the fire along with her husband and daughter that night.
Borden was shocked her home served as a refuge, as they barely made it out themselves.
“Once you got past one fire, there was another one, once you got past the next one, power poles were falling on you,” Borden told Good Day Sacramento. But then her family received a call. “They said, ‘Your home was a safe haven for us, your home saved our lives.'”
Roebuck said the family and her home was a lifeline.
“They saved our family, and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”
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