A mother-of-five and nurse has opened up about the emotional moment she called her daughters as flames from California’s lethal wildfires closed in, thinking it would be the last time she would ever speak to them.
“I’m trapped in the fire. It’s all around me. I love you. Take care of Brayden and Allyson and Brooklyn,” Tamara Ferguson, 42, told her two eldest daughters from a burning hospital in the northern California town of Paradise on November 8. “Make sure they know how much I loved them.”
Despite their insistence she was going to survive, the mom – who put herself through nursing school after having her first child at 17 and went on to dedicate her life to taking care of other young moms and those struggling through difficult labors – pushed back.
“No, you don’t understand. I’m not going to make it. I was the best mother I could be. I’m sorry for the mistakes I made. I’m so sorry,” she wept.
The heart-wrenching moments, as recounted to the Los Angeles Times, took place as embers bounced from the building, an ambulance melted to the ground and a transformer blew up.
The devoted nurse admitted that she could have left the Feather River Hospital earlier, but seventy patients needed to be evacuated and she wasn’t going to leave without them. Ferguson recalled them taking a selfie with several of those patients, believing it to be her last. But in an almost miracle moment, the fire curtailed in direction and a convoy of sheriff’s cruisers rushed them to another hospital.
The reunion that was later to happen, was one of many tears of relief.
“Don’t apologize for anything. You are incredible,” they reportedly told her. “You raised five kids by yourself. You are everything to us.”
The Ferguson family, along with scores of others, are counting their blessings over Thanksgiving despite the tragic few weeks that have preceded.
Dozens of displaced families who have lost everything in the state’s deadliest ever wildfires remain in a Walmart parking lot in the town of Chico, even as temperatures dip close to freezing. Hundreds of volunteers have provided Thanksgiving meals for the families, as they await news of fellow residents who remain unaccounted for.
The death toll from the Camp Fire rose on Wednesday to 86, with just under 1000 still missing. The Butte County sheriff, Kory Honea, has warned that the remains of some of the missing may never be recovered due to the fierceness of the fire.
The flames, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, have decimated almost 400 square miles and almost entirely laid waste to the once thriving 27,000-person town of Paradise in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
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