My Camp Fire evacuation started at 7:30 am when I told my boss that I think we should leave. Before the fire, I worked at an assisted living home with the elderly. My boss called a meeting. One of my co-workers, Tia, and I started getting residents up and in the living room. By 9:30 am, I loaded three residents into my car. We didn’t get off of Sawmill Road till 10:30 am.
Houses were going up in flames and I did what I had to. The ladies I had in my car and in the car behind me were on oxygen. I had my co-workers follow me and a few other cars. I told the police I was sorry for the stupid thing I was going to do, but it was for my ladies. I cut over to the empty lane up to Pearson Road and drove to Clark Road. They had me go down Clark, and that’s when my car started to overheat. I put my heater on and told the ladies I was sorry. The one up front held my hand and told me she loved me.
Driving down Clark, a policeman said the fire had jumped and he turned us around. So back up Clark we went. We were now directed to go down Buschmann Road. My car was getting worse so I started singing to my ladies, turning my car off as we stopped in the traffic. We got to Skyway Road at about 1 pm, and that’s when my motor blew. My heart crashed. I tried so hard to keep it together for them. I got out of my car. People were not stopping. I sat there yelling for help with three 95-year-old ladies in my car, and no one helping me.
Then, two men on Harleys stopped. They couldn’t get any one to help me until they saw a friend of theirs. They helped carry the ladies to the friend’s car. I told the friend where to take the ladies, gave him my info., and told the ladies I loved them and to stay strong. We pushed my car off the road and I got on the back of one of the Harleys. Watching my town burn was the most painful thing I have ever seen. I’m thankful for those men, and those ladies are safe in new home in Chico.
Post-script note from Jessica Ostrowski:
Kayla is a caretaker through and through. At the time of the Camp Fire, she was working at Sunshine Assisted Living, taking care of elderly folks. She loved her job and she loves her former residents—as you may infer from her story, above. With Paradise devastated, Kayla and her residents had to move out of the area and she recently found a job taking care of disabled adults. Helping others is her calling and her soul food.
I will add that, while skimming through social media publications during a portion of the Cajun Navy Foundation vetting process for CrowdRelief Disaster Survivor Stories, most of the things Kayla published on social media following the Camp Fire were ways to help others. She made sure people she loved were taken care of. She even made sure strangers were getting taken care of—including the man who rescued her on the back of his Harley. Giving is Kayla’s nature. She is truly a special person.
She has two rescue dogs, Grace and Zoey. The pups were heroically and thankfully saved from the wildfire by Kayla’s friend, who broke into her residence during the evacuation and took the small dogs to safety.
Kayla has purchased a tiny trailer she plans to turn into a tiny house for her and her furbabies. The trailer needs a lot of work to convert, but Kayla is ready and willing to make it happen. Let’s help her help herself. If you can, please send a little to assist in her big project of rebuilding the trailer while she also works to rebuild her life. You can send some trailer funds to Kayla via VenMo, the free app. Here is the link to her account
Story written by: Kayla Modrell
Photo: Harley Davidson Free Wallpaper