BUTTE COUNTY(CBS13) — A local mother narrowly escaped the raging inferno burning in Paradise — just minutes after getting a C-section.
“We thought, ‘well this is it, we are really going to die now.’ Then it was like, boom, hitting a wall and all of a sudden there was no fire,” said Heather Roebuck, recounting her horrifying experience on Thursday.
Feather River Hospital in Paradise fell victim to the raging inferno. Portions of the facility burned to the ground.
The whirlwind began just minutes after Halley Ellen was born. She was the last baby to be born at Feather River Hospital.
As flames began devouring all of Paradise, she was whisked away by her father.
“I knew they were going to be separated from me,” Roebuck said.
Roebuck had just undergone a Cesarean-section. She was stitched up and then forced to flee from the hospital, still numb from surgery.
“There was so much fire and so much smoke. Everywhere around us was pitch black,” she said.
Tammy Ferguson and a team of hospital staff loaded up patients and the new mother.
“I could only see outside of the ambulance and that was terrifying enough,” said Ferguson.
The ambulance stalled and caught fire, then began melting before their eyes.
“It’s truly like it was raining fire,” Ferguson added.
With nowhere to go and losing all hope collectively, each began calling their loved ones and saying goodbye.
“I just said I’m sorry that I’m not going to be there with him and our kids, and that I loved him,” Roebuck said as she called her husband that morning.
“I’m in this fire. I’m not going to get out of it, but I’m trying to get out of it. I just want you guys to know how much I love you,” Ferguson said as she called her children.
Then there was a glimmer of hope, a home sitting empty in the middle of the inferno.
“They started dragging me down the street and the next thing I hear is them breaking into someone’s garage,” Roebuck recalled.
EMT’s, firefighters, law enforcement officials, and hospital staff then kept the home from burning.
“I accepted the fact that I was probably going to die and decided that I was going to do everything that I can to make sure some people lived or that I lived,” Ferguson.
After surviving the fire inside the home, emergency responders took the patients and the crew to Oroville Hospital. Everyone with them survived.
The survivors said they’re thankful for the emergency crews who risked it all.
“They saved our family, and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here,” Roebuck said.
“People that were complete strangers to meet are now going to be a part of my life forever and I’m so grateful that every one of them has a family to come home to,” Ferguson said.
The home belonged to Desiree Borden, her husband, and their daughter.
“They said ‘your home was a safe haven for us. Your home saved our lives,’” Borden said.