Calaveras Rising up from the Butte Fire

Calaveras residents line Main Street to thank firefighters
Hundreds of Calaveras residents lined the streets of Angels Camp on September 18 to wave signs and thank the passing firefighters for all their hard work battling the Butte Fire. | Photo: Maria Camillo


Disasters have a way of bringing out the best in people. This month, as Calaveras and Amador counties were hammered by the Butte Fire, the people of these communities rallied and rolled up their sleeves to help out in any way they could. Many of you who were not here sent your support and prayers and those too were greatly appreciated.  Emergency personnel visiting from other parts of the state noticed how exceptionally friendly and willing to rally together our locals were – and we thought that was worth sharing. It’s not just the natural beauty but also the people that make Calaveras County such a special place.

Calaveras thanks emergency crews working on Butte Fire
Locals express their gratitude to emergency crews working on the Butte Fire. | Photo: Maria Camillo


Our social media pages have been busy lately with concerns and questions about the fire and grateful expressions of thanks to everyone who helped us through this tough time. And remarkably, the county’s tourism regions have been almost entirely spared, are open for business and looking forward to visitors. Lodging and restaurants have stayed on their toes serving large numbers of fire and emergency workers as well as evacuees. Our major attractions have all stayed out of the fire’s path and we have a full calendar of great events to check out this weekend. Even California Cavern, whose above-ground landscape burned near Mountain Ranch, plans to reopen for walking tours on Saturday the 26th.  So, if you were wondering whether it was time to visit – we say yes please! Come on up and enjoy your favorite Calaveras activities. We need your business now more than ever.

Despite the fire now being almost entirely contained, there are still large numbers of emergency personnel in the area. When you visit, please give them a friendly wave and let them know you too appreciate their incredible dedication, hard work and bravery in their efforts to save so much of our beautiful county from the fire’s devastation.

Butte Fire crew gets cookies on break
Home baked cookies from Monika Riedel being distributed to firefighters on break from the Butte Fire | Photo: Maria Camillo


From our most popular tourism regions, it’s hard to see the devastation from the effects of the fire. But with nearly 71,000 acres consumed, and 475 residences lost, Calaveras County faces a long recovery. Our most rural areas, as you can see in the map below (click for larger view), have suffered devastating losses; homes have been destroyed and families have been displaced. But there’s a been a heartwarming local and regional outpouring of support for those in need. If you are interested in donating to recovery efforts, please contact the Calaveras Community Foundation or The Resource Connection. In addition, the Calaveras County Association of Realtors is doing an outstanding job of helping those who have lost their homes. You can donate to their GoFundMe page here:

Butte Fire map
Calaveras County map showing the area burned by the Butte Fire


In addition, local photographer, Maria Camillo, whose photos we have used in this article, is having 2 posters developed as Butte Fire fundraisers. One will display the photos she took showing the insignias of more than 100 fire engines that were here to fight the Butte Fire, and the other will show the graphic depictions of thanks that were displayed locally. Both posters are being professionally designed, by Columbine Type and Design. Once the posters are completed, all profits from sales will go to the firefighters and evacuees and they will be available for purchase from the Calaveras Visitors Center in Angels Camp. Here are some of Maria’s photos that will be included in the two posters. Please note, these are not the finished designs. The fire engine insignia poster will also include insignias from local fire crews. Click on images to see larger versions:

Maria Camilla photography -fire engine insignias from Butte FireMaria Camillo photo - Calaveras thanks Butte Fire emergency crews