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Some Bear Fire survivors living in RVs concerned they’ll be evicted at the end of the year

Rebekah North, president of the Berry Creek Community Council, on Aug. 30, 2023 standing on her property where her home burned down in the 2020 Bear Fire. She worries about members of her community who still live in trailers in Berry Creek being evicted at the end of the year.
Jamie Jiang
/
NSPR
Rebekah North, president of the Berry Creek Community Council, on Aug. 30, 2023 standing on her property where her home burned down in the 2020 Bear Fire. She worries about members of her community who still live in trailers in Berry Creek being evicted at the end of the year.

Read the transcript

AVA NORGROVE, ANCHOR: 

Some survivors of the Bear Fire are worried they may be kicked off their land soon. That fire killed sixteen and leveled the communities of Berry Creek and Feather Falls in 2020.

Many people who lost their homes are still living in trailers on their properties. The law that allows them to stay expires at the end of this year.

NSPR’s Jamie Jiang reports.

JAMIE JIANG, REPORTER: 

Deborah Higgins sits on a bench with her dog Cyclops outside a wildfire recovery center in Oroville.

Since her home burned down, she’s been living on her property in an RV.

She’d just met with her disaster case manager about getting a permanent house on her land before the county ordinance expires.

HIGGINS: “The house is supposed to be delivered in November, that's pretty darn close to December. I’m going to be stressed out the whole time.”

Rebekah North’s husband inspecting piles of lumber where their house once stood on Aug. 30, 2023. There’s nothing left on the North's property but standing dead trees, debris and a square where the foundation of their new house will be poured this year.
Jamie Jiang
/
NSPR
Rebekah North’s husband inspecting piles of lumber where their house once stood on Aug. 30, 2023. There’s nothing left on the North's property but standing dead trees, debris and a square where the foundation of their new house will be poured this year.

Like many fire survivors, Higgins said she couldn’t afford to get a house before now.

It’s not clear how many people are still camping on their land in the Bear Fire burn scar — estimates put it at dozens to hundreds.

Rebekah North heads the Berry Creek Community Council. She says evictions won’t help people recover.

NORTH: “People need help. And I don’t think pushing them out of their homes into a homeless situation is a good idea.”

North is pushing the county board of supervisors to allow people to stay on their property longer.

The supervisor who represents Berry Creek will not say whether he’ll try to extend the ordinance.

However, Butte County code enforcers say they’ll do outreach and education for months after the ordinance expires before evicting anyone.

Jamie is NSPR’s wildfire reporter and Report For America corps member. She covers all things fire, but her main focus is wildfire recovery in the North State. Before NSPR, Jamie was at UCLA, where she dabbled in college radio and briefly worked as podcast editor at the Daily Bruin.