CHICO (CBS13) — While the fire battle continues thousands of residents are looking for a place to stay.

In Chico at one of four Red Cross shelters, Neighborhood Church was expected to house 200 but has 370 evacuees looking for shelter.

The Red Cross is now redirecting people to other shelters and churches.

“We sent them to Gridley shelter and now there is a shelter in Yuba City. There’s a variety of churches we have them going to,” said Mike Wood with the Red Cross.  

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The American Red Cross is operating at full capacity at Neighborhood Church in Chico with 370 people on site. They are waiting for a semi-truck with more cots and supplies expected to arrive tonight.

On Friday people streamed in looking for info food and friends. With cooler temperatures settling in, the Knights of Columbus served up a warm treat.

“This morning we all gathered around and decided to make scrambled egg burritos and hand them out,” said Ed Grens with the Knights of Columbus.

An elderly couple from Magalia who slept in their car said they were happy to have the help “There’s a lot of people in the same boat as us. A lot of suck people, so we feel fortunate and we have our dog to keep us warm,” said Gene Thompson.

Thompson said he lost two houses in the blaze.

Siel Smail escaped the fire with nothing but the clothes on his back with his girlfriend.

“I went through very dark smoke and I got to Neal road and I saw the light and said, ‘thank god we made it,’” Smail said.

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Smail said he stayed with friends Thursday night but stopped by Neighborhood Church Friday to register with the Red Cross. He’s worried there is nothing left of his home in Paradise. 

Navy Seal Mitchell Smith is on a mission to find his brother, sister, and nephew.

“I can’t find them so I am going from place to place looking for them,” Smith said.

Merle Loomis and his husband lost both of their Magalia homes. They slept in their car outside the shelter after being turned away due to capacity.

”I put him in the back of the truck, and I slept on a cot outside. It was cold,” Loomis said.

Smail said with the frequency of wildfires now, the public needs to be better protected. He said more should be done to cut back vegetation along roads in places like Paradise so this problem doesn’t happen.

If you need help finding a loved one, go to The Butte County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Friday afternoon that there are 35 missing person reports filed from the fire.

Officials said if you are looking for a loved one, first make every effort to contact them via phone and social media. Check If those efforts do not work, call the Butte County Sheriff’s Department at (530) 538-7826. If you fear that your loved one is in imminent danger, then call 911.


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