The death toll is still rising as the devastating Camp Fire in Paradise, California, continues to burn.
Fire survivors like Wayne Williamson have lost homes, belongings and employment, grappling with what to do next in the overwhelm of chaos.
But in the midst of the devastation, stories like Williamson’s rise triumphantly from the ashes, offering hope and resilience to a hurting population.
Williamson was walking down the highway on Nov. 13, on his way to Chico, California, for a job interview. He recalled the anxious thoughts whirling in his head, so lost in thought that he didn’t notice a man pull up beside him.
The man was fellow fire survivor Greg Beyelia, who says he felt compelled to stop.
“Something told me, I think God told me, let this guy have a ride,” Beyelia told KXTV.
“So, I pulled over and he jumped in and we didn’t know each other and we started talking and realized we both came out of that fire.”
As the men chatted together, Beyelia offered to drive Williamson all the way to his job interview.
Beyelia waited for the interview to end, then took Williamson to lunch. He suggested that they exchange phone numbers to keep in touch.
“I explain somehow in all the confusion I lost my phone during evacuation,” Williamson wrote on Facebook. “He buys me a new phone after I tell him please no.”
With a new phone in his hand and tears in his eyes, Williamson was deeply moved by the kindness of a stranger who was now a friend.
“I wish you the best Greg in your new adventures,” Williamson wrote. “I’ll never forget today and your kindness.”
Williamson’s Facebook post soon went viral, as strangers were moved to tears reading the heartwarming story.
Beyelia said that in hard times like this, everyone needs a helping hand. He found himself in a predicament when he ran out of gas on the day he evacuated town and was also offered help from a stranger.
“I told people I ran out of gas and one lady pulls up and she’s like, ‘You need a lift?'” Beyelia said. “‘Yes I do.’ And we rode all the way down the left lane.”
Williamson will never forget the day he met Beyelia.
“It brought tears to my eyes and opened my heart,” Williamson said. “Thinking that someone who went through so much could share and still help somebody else.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.