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Mesa woman worries for family trapped by California wildfires, raising donations to help

Posted at 6:52 PM, Nov 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-11 21:30:11-05

For Jennifer Simas the wildfire burning in Paradise, California is personal.  

She grew up in the community. Having lived there for ten years; the sidewalks she once walked on, the house she once called home, the schools, parks, and restaurants she once enjoyed, the communities and neighborhoods she remembers are now all gone.

"It's like a scene from a movie people literally escaping with their lives and their families and that's all they have," said Simas.

Her biggest worry is the family she still has who made it out alive.

"My brother was driving in his car with fire on both sides of him...he literally feels like he escaped sister-in-law and her son had to leave her vehicle and they went to a local Walgreens and that started catching on fire and thank God the bus was able to get them out of town...They're crying. I have an uncle that's upstairs that can't stop crying because his two brothers are there and he can't help them out," Simas said.

The entire city of about 27,000 people was evacuated nearly two days ago. Since then, her family has been calling a shelter set up by the Red Cross home.  

She says many people don't have the basic necessities to survive and wants to help. As an entrepreneur, and with Paradise holding such a special place in her heart, she is turning that feeling of hopelessness into action.

"We're just trying to do what we can from here," Simas added.

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Turning her garage into a donation area collection toothbrushes and diapers.  Shampoo and toothpaste.  Shoes, toiletries, and all the basic necessities they desperately need in a fire torn community. 

"I just want to help in any way that I can," she said.

In the coming days, Simas plans to drive back to a city she once called home and bring all the donations she has collected to help bring some relief to the people she grew up with.

If you would like to help and donate Simas has set up a donation page on Facebook