Butte County falls silent in remembrance of Camp Fire


Marge Nelmes came to Chico City Plaza to remember her best friend, Lolene Rios of 46 years who passed away during the fire. Photo credit: Kimberly Morales

Friday, Nov. 8, marked a year since Butte County faced the deadliest wildfire in California history, and residents faced it with remembrance and hope.

Gathering at various locations in Chico State and the Chico City Plaza, the town fell silent for a shared 85 seconds, marking the 85 lives lost from the Camp Fire.

Students, faculty and staff joined together on the lawn outside Kendall Hall, and the Chico State community was met with a band and speakers. With a flag lowered, the university stood solemnly together.

Only a few streets down, at the city plaza, people gathered for a townwide memorial featuring a performance from Chico High School’s choir and gathered prayer.

Starting off the event, the moderator began by addressing the community.

“The residents of Butte County aren’t even sure what we should be doing right now and how we should be feeling. Whatever you brought with you to this place is fine…what we hope to do today is to stand in solidarity with our neighbors on the burn zone as they hold their various observances on the ridge.”

At 11:08 a.m., the county fell silent. Once the stillness was broken, 85 doves were flown into the air as the commenter called out “let them fly free,” as the ceremony ended.

Among the attendees, Marge Nelmes came to the City Plaza, to remember her best friend, Lolene Rios of 46 years who passed away during the fire. Lolene lived her life on Billie Road.

“I think it feels good to talk about it after everything,” Nelmes said after the silence.

Kimberly Morales can be reached at [email protected] or @kimberlymnews on Twitter.