Urn containing grandmother's ashes survives catastrophic wildfire

PARADISE, Calif. - Running from a tower of flames was a terrifying escape for Amber Paton and her family.

Like thousands of others, they ran.

"Family upon family just running down the street. Running," Paton told KTXL. "Flames on both sides. It was crazy."

Paton and her family left everything behind.

"At first, that part was hard to swallow but now the stuff doesn't even matter. The lives lost is unbearable," Paton said. "It's hard to wrap your head around it, you know, I feel really blessed that my family and my friends got out. But a lot of people didn't."

With the number of lives lost in the Camp Fire - now the deadliest wildfire in California's history - material belongings don't mean as much to Paton.

"Things can be replaced and we’re together and that's all that matters," she said.

One thing that can't be replaced was at her mother's home a few miles away.

"She almost fell to the floor when she realized she forgot her mom," Paton said.

Paton's mother's home burned as well. So Paton assumed her grandmother's ashes would be gone - but she was wrong.

"It's a miracle," she said. "I can't even believe that she made it."

The only thing left standing at the home was the brick fireplace and mantle. Atop the mantle was the urn containing Paton's grandmother's ashes - left intact.

"It's a sign. It's a sign that it's going to be OK," Paton said.

With so much lost, Paton's family has found something to be grateful for.

"There's always good things to look at. We need to remember that," she said. "It's giving me hope."

For now, Paton and her kids are staying with family in Oroville. She says there are a dozen people in the home with at least a dozen pets - but at least they're safe.