Paradise Rising

Ganesh Mantra is Thailand’s Hindu God of Wisdom. We have all become wiser, stronger, and We Are Rising together!

About the Campfire - 11/08/2018

We Believe the Ridge will Rise - we have committed to helping our community recover!

On November 8, 2018 I dropped the twins off at Ponderosa Elementary School. Driving south on Pentz Rd. I could see the flames in Paradise! As I drove by Paradise Medical Group on Pentz, there wasn’t anyone evacuating. So I started running door to door telling people they needed to evacuate as a fire was fast approaching. They started streaming out into the parking lot and standing around. No one was moving due to the shock of it all. Finally I started yelling at people to get into their cars. “Follow Me!”. In a huge caravan of 32 or so vehicles, we weaved through Paradise trying to find a way to get to Skyway. Like a flock of birds changing flight direction, we turned around together, tried a new road, turned around, tried a new road. Finally we got to the Skyway.

I decided I was not going to leave and walked back to Sophia’s Thai. Then I saw a house on fire and a woman sitting in her car in the driveway. I pulled up and said “you need to evacuate!”. She looked at me with those eyes that you know so well, “my son is in the house looking for the cat!”. Assessing the situation with the house already on fire, I just gunned it and drove my vehicle into the house. I got out and started yelling “Boy! Boy! Where are you?” There was no answer, and I was terrified he was already gone. After running around trying to find the boy and the cat, he finally yelled back – “Who are you!?” I said, “Why didn’t you answer me? I’ve been worried sick! You need to get in the car RIGHT NOW!”. He argued as he didn’t have the cat yet, and he said “I don’t know who you are and my mom told me not to talk to strangers!”. I thought to myself, what a great mom. She trained her boy well. I made the boy get in the car, even though I was a stranger. I think of you often and hope you are alright and faring better each day.

The rest of the day is so clear in my memory. I walked back to Sophia’s Thai. Hooked up the garden hose and got up on the roof. As the fire approached, already crowned in the trees, I sprayed each spot fire and was able to save the building, but not our storage with all our business dishes and decorations. It was hot and smoky for REAL! About 4pm a firetruck pulled in and they yelled – “hey! What the @$!# Are you doing up there? You need to evacuate!” I refused as I was putting out fires! They climbed the ladder, grabbed me, and made me evacuate. I think my wife is grateful for them as I would have stayed there all night. It was a true relief to reunite with my wife and the girls. What a day!

After the fire, we worked tirelessly to reopen immediately so everyone had a place to grab a meal for first responders, government workers, contractors, clean up crews, road crews, utility and water crews, and eventually the people of The Ridge when we were finally allowed back home. We were able to buy the old Moongate Chinese Restaurant and A&W Building and worked hard to repair that building to move. We re-opened as Authentic Thai Cuisine of Paradise.

I know you have a similar story to share. Together we are Paradise Rising! Together we will heal.

Blessings from Ganesha to all our Campfire survivors, first responders, and emergency management teams!