Christian Chronicle

‘Paradise is lost,’ but minister and wife escaped deadly wildfire ‘with the clothes on our back’

Fast-moving blaze that ravaged Northern California town destroyed the Church of Christ’s building and most members’ homes.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

On Thursday morning, minister Joe Glenn got a call at his Paradise Church of Christ office.

A friend in the 50-member Northern California congregation, which Glenn has served for nearly 15 years, warned the preacher, “We’ve been ordered to evacuate.”

A fast-moving wildfire was roaring toward the community of 27,000, about 180 miles northeast of San Francisco.

“I looked outside and saw ashes falling like snowflakes,” said Glenn, 81, a 1962 graduate of then-Abilene Christian College in West Texas.

The minister called Pat Glenn, his wife of 57 years, at their home behind the church building and told her they needed to leave in a hurry.

They loaded their rescue dogs, Bambi and Cheska, and their cats, Bib and Boo, into the couple’s cars. Then they joined their son, Curtis Glenn, who was driving his truck, in a clogged procession out of town.

The family escaped the blaze — which would destroy the church building and most members’ homes — “with the clothes on our back,” Joe Glenn said. More than 8,800 structures — mostly homes in Paradise — were leveled as the blaze charred the region, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In a telephone interview Wednesday from a Motel 6 in Williams, Calif., about 65 miles southwest of Paradise, the minister talked with The Christian Chronicle.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning journalist who has reported from all 50 states and 13 countries in his 28-year professional career.

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