Individual acts of kindness multiply in wake of 49 Fire

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Auburn is ground zero for firefighting efforts and for helping fire victims. A 275-acre blaze that destroyed 60 homes and businesses Sunday evening rattled the very heart of our community. Everyone, it seems, has a story to tell about a friend or neighbor who is facing extremely difficult circumstances. Our local police, firefighters and emergency personnel are acting heroically — effectively containing the fire, directing traffic and alerting the citizenry about what’s going on through the local media. What is astonishing, however, are the countless extraordinary efforts of ordinary people. Neighbor helping neighbor. Selfless acts of kindness. At the Auburn Journal, from a few moments after the fire broke out Sunday afternoon, we have been updating our Web site,, as stories and information becomes available. And in addition, many readers have been updating their own photos and stories on the My Auburn side of Your stories and photos are phenomenal. One story we have heard, but have not yet documented, is that of a local man, Norm Paul, who came to the aid of many with his own water tender truck. We have been told how he diligently defended others’ property on Locksley Lane and in adjacent fire areas, saving businesses and perhaps a home or two. But he as yet remains anonymous. Auburn businesses like Wings restaurant and Dutch Bros. Coffee have also opened their doors and arms to help victims. At Community First Bank, Mark Lund, chief executive officer, immediately created a disaster relief fund. Lund was in the process of establishing a citizen’s advisory board Monday to ensure the funds would be fairly distributed and their buying power maximized. Rock Creek School and Auburn Elementary opened their doors to fire victims, serving as immediate evacuation centers. Calvary Chapel Church also served as an emergency shelter, taking in families who had lost everything. At Placer High, the Leadership class has already enlisted 25 businesses to help in a gift-card fund-raising effort for local fire victims. And Auburn Recreation District has opened its gymnasium in Regional Park for evacuees. For those who want to help, donations may also be made to the Salvation Army at 286 Sutter St. You can also help by donating money to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund. The Red Cross has a Placer County office at 457 Grass Valley Highway in Auburn. Granite Community Bank has opened an account to help the Calderon family, who faced especially trying circumstances in addition to losing their home to the fire. Auburn’s Rotary clubs were moving quickly Monday, generating an aid effort within 24 hours of the fire. Several Rotarians had their own businesses damaged by the blaze, yet were mobilizing to help provide relief to any family or person affected. Recovering from this tragedy will take a long time. As ways you can help become apparent, the Auburn Journal will publish details, checking out the legitimacy of those involved as much as possible to avoid possible scams that have targeted other communities recovering from disasters. You can be a big part of the recovery effort. Tell us your stories and about those needing help. Offer what you can in either volunteer hours, goods and services or cash. By working together, Auburn can recover from this awful crisis. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims. We wish Godspeed, courage and resources for those helping to heal the wounds of fire. Though the future no doubt looks bleak for those who have lost everything, they should remember they are not in this alone. An entire community stands behind them and will attempt to see them through this tragedy.