On November 8, 2018, my wife Lara and I evacuated our home due to the Northern California Camp-Fire. It was the deadliest fire in the history of California, and destroyed the towns of Concow, Paradise, and half of Magalia (our town). We lost our home, and all of our belongings, and escaped with just what we could stuff into our Expedition, including 3 metal detectors, a sluice, a few gold pans, and 2 cats.
When we returned after the fire, virtually nothing was left of the town. Seventeen thousand structures were destroyed and 85 people were dead. The area looked like Hiroshima. I’ve never seen such destruction before in my life. People were frantically searching for valuables with very little success. Because we had experience metal detecting, we volunteered to help as many as we could search for the valuables amongst the rubble. We spent over 8 months in the ash and debris finding lost rings that had melted into tiny blobs of gold, and coin collections. We had about an 80% success rate, which was surprising considering the severe conditions.