Mother Desperately Flees Wildfires Just Hours After C-Section — and Urges 'Leave Me Behind'
"Never have I had a Thanksgiving come where I have had so little and felt more thankful and blessed," said Rachelle Sanders
A mother in Paradise, California, never imagined her pregnancy would end with a mad dash to safety through California’s blazing wildfires.
Rachelle Sanders, 35, delivered her son Lincoln at 6 pounds, 5 ounces, via C-section on November 8 after a high-risk pregnancy — and just hours later was forced to evacuate Feather River Hospital in Paradise, according to The San Fransisco Chronicle.
As the fires reached the hospital, Sanders was rushed into a car with an employee named David, whose last name she never learned, according to the Chronicle. Because of her incision, she couldn’t wear a seat belt. Sanders was able to put a mask over her baby’s mouth, but could only cover hers with her hospital gown, the outlet reported.
David, who worked at the hospital but had no medical experience, managed to hang her intravenous lines from the rearview mirror, CNN reported.
And, because she was confined to a wheelchair and unable to walk or run, Sanders — now a mother of three — knew that her escape methods were limited should fire overtake the vehicle, the Chronicle reported.
Realizing the situation as they battled crowded roads in devastating conditions, Sanders told the Chronicle she urged David, “If it comes down to it, if you have to run, take the baby. Leave me behind.”
But on Monday, Sanders told CNN that thankfully that didn’t happen — even as they drove through what she said resembled a “windstorm of fire” over the next nine hours. Throughout their long and horrifying drive, Sanders said flames came across the road many times.
At one point during the 20-mile journey, she recounted, they drove past her family’s house and discovered it was gone.
“I thought I wasn’t going to make it, for sure,” Sanders told CNN. “I wasn’t sure any of us were going to make it. It was very, very terrifying.”
Sanders added to the outlet, “Never have I had a Thanksgiving come where I have had so little and felt more thankful and blessed.”
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The Chronicle reported that Sanders and Lincoln were moved to Enloe Medical Center in Chico, where she was reunited with her husband and other children. The family is now homeless.
According to CNN, the Camp Fire has killed at least 79 people. Paradise — the city where Sanders was hospitalized — was devastated by the fire.
On Monday night, Robert Baruffaldi, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Sacramento office, told the news outlet that heavy rain starting Wednesday will end “fire concerns for the winter,” but that it could cause flash flooding and mudflows.