Anastasia Kontaxaki, a nurse in Paradise, CA, escaped the deadly fire known as the “Camp Fire” that blazed through the city on November 8, 2018, all thanks to the kindness of a stranger. Now, she is paying-it-forward with a GoFundMe campaign, raising money for the fire victims and Paradise community with the support of her sister Effie, who is located in the UK. Together, these Greek sisters are helping give back to Paradise by gathering donations to help arrange meals and gifts to be delivered to the fire victims during the holiday season.
Anastasia Kontaxaki, originally from Greece, is a nurse at Feather River Hospital. On the day of the fires, she was at work and had first evacuated of all of the patients before fleeing the deadly fires herself. By the time she was ready to leave the hospital, the traffic was barely inching along and was bumper to bumper. “I didn’t have phone service so I texted my husband I loved him in case I didn’t make it out,” Anastasia said. This is when she made the fateful decision to flee by foot and not by car, and it would put her in contact with a stranger named Monty. She didn’t know him before that day, but she now says, “He is my hero.”
With her eyes burning and smoke all around, and even though Anastasia was moving faster than the cars on the street, the elements of the fire were taking their toll on the nurse, who had geared herself up in a surgical mask and goggles as she left from the hospital. This is when she heard a car honking, a man yelled out to her from a minivan, asking her if she needed a ride. She got in and thanked him.
“His name is Monty and he was my angel that day. He was evacuating his disabled sister along with 3 other sweet old ladies that he didn’t know. The cars were moving so slow and the fire started crossing Penz that we decided it was better to turn around and go the other way. We drove through flames on both sides of the road watching trees and houses burn all around us. I kept praying for God to help us get out as I felt the car getting hot from the fire,” Anastasia recalls.
After trying multiple routes to escape the fires, they finally made it into the clear. Once they were safe, Monty properly introduced himself.
“..and that’s when I realized he didn’t know the three ladies in the back seat. He saved four total strangers beside his sister that day. He kept his calm the whole drive through hell and he made some smart decisions that saved all six of us in that car. I got his phone number and I’ve been keeping in touch with him. I cannot thank him enough for saving my life on Thursday and giving me the chance to see my husband and kids again. He is my hero,” Anastasia said.
Anastasia was one of the lucky ones to have survived the deadly fires. The fire burned Paradise down to the ground, leaving it unrecognizable, and Anastasia and her sister mobilized to help the families of Paradise.
As of November 29, fires have claimed the lives of 88 people, while 198 are still missing. Over 30,000 people fled Paradise for their lives that day, leaving all of their possessions and memories behind to be engulfed in the flames.
The sisters’ GoFundMe campaign, “Giving Back to the Paradise Community” has a goal of raising $5,000 to help the fire victims. You can learn more and contribute to their fundraiser here.