Focus Features developing survival film Paradise, about California's deadliest wildfire
The deadliest wildfire in California’s history is getting the movie treatment.
Focus Features is developing Paradise, a film based on the true story of a family who fought through and survived the 2018 Camp Fire, which destroyed the small town of Paradise and is now known as the most destructive fire in the state’s history (and ranks sixth for the U.S. overall). The film is “about the power of the human spirit against all odds,” and tells the story of the wildfire through Heather Roebuck’s experience as chronicled in her Facebook post, which quickly went viral.
When the Camp Fire struck, Roebuck had given birth via C-section minutes before the hospital became engulfed by flames. Powerless to move her legs and separated from her newborn and fiancé, Roebuck embarked on a harrowing journey through the town of Paradise with the help of a group of EMTs and other emergency personnel. Focus Features has optioned the life rights for Roebuck; her fiancé, Bret Harles; and their children; as well as Butte County emergency medical workers Sean Abrams, Mike Castro, Shannon Molarius, and Robin Cranston, who ended up becoming impromptu firefighters as the group became trapped by the fire and were forced to fight for their lives.
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land) is set to direct and pen the script, with Josh McLaughlin serving as executive producer.
“For me, the film examines the human connections ordinary people make in extraordinary circumstances,” Heineman said in a statement. “Heather’s journey of inner strength in the face of unparalleled and unexpected adversity is one of the most exciting and visceral stories that I’ve ever encountered. I’m honored to work alongside Focus Features and Temple Hill to bring her story to the screen.”
The Camp Fire was one of the world’s most expensive natural disasters of all of 2018, causing more than $16.5 billion in damage. It began on Camp Creek Road (hence its name) in Butte County, Calif., and claimed more than 85 lives (with two still missing) while it raged for 17 days.