California fire: What started as a tiny brush fire became the state’s deadliest wildfire. Here’s how

Fifteen minutes later, McKenzie stood at the dam looking helplessly across the river canyon at a 10-acre fire on the rock slope above. He had no way to reach it. Its unpaved access route, Camp Creek Road, clung to the mountain so precariously that rock slides threatened to erase it.

By sunset, the fire had swept 19 miles over an entire mountain, surprising, trapping, terrifying and killing — the most destructive and deadliest in California history. Concow and the city of Paradise are largely gone, adjoining mountain towns devastated.

California fire: What started as a tiny brush fire became the state’s deadliest wildfire. Here’s how