Woman fears grandparents were killed in Camp Fire

PARADISE, Calif. (KGO) -- Days after the Camp Fire tore through Paradise, outside Chico, hundreds of people are still considered unaccounted for. One woman is experiencing what so many others are going and. She thinks her grandparents were killed in the fire, but is waiting for official word.

For Melina Gonzalez, a fire tearing through her grandparents' town is especially hard in the days just before Thanksgiving. Chris and Phyllis Salazar are presumed dead. They lived in Paradise for decades. Melina would visit them as a child.

"My grandma would make Thanksgiving dinner with a ton of butter. You know, Paula Deen-style. Like, obscene amounts of butter... like a grandma should and would."

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Melina says when she first heard of the Camp Fire, it was tough to find out what happened. Several of her aunts and uncles also live in Paradise and got out safely. But no one could tell her about her grandparents.

"There were days of not knowing, of just being hopeful, just thinking maybe they got out with people in their church, or maybe somebody picked them up and we don't know."

Melina posted on Facebook asking for help finding her grandparents, and called several agencies. A network of friends and neighbors helped her piece together that her grandparents likely hadn't made it.

"A friend of a friend knew somebody that could check on the house and they had told me that there was nothing there. And that was devastating. I also had heard that their car was there, and that was too much to handle."

Melina's mom has told her crews found remains at her grandparent's home but are waiting for DNA confirmation.

MAPS: A look at the Camp Fire in Butte County and other California fires

"They found my grandmother's necklace, which made it real."

Melina says her grandmother never took off her necklace. She now plans to visit Paradise and plan a memorial for her grandparents. She's unsure what will happen to the town.

"It was the kind of place where you'd go to the local store, go down to Stratton's, talk to the clerk so-and-so and let them know Phyllis and Chris need this. Losing so many people in a town where people seemed to all know each other, that's going to be a hard pill to swallow."

See more stories, photos and videos on the Camp Fire in Butte County here.
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