Strangers flock to Northern California to lend a helping hand

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By Alex Johnson, Stephan Kozub and Rima Abdelkader

It took Frank Hilscher only a half-hour to figure out what to do as the scale of the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history, began to dawn on him.

Hilscher first heard about the fire, which has killed 76 people and left more than 2,000 others unaccounted for, on Nov. 8, the day it ignited near Poe Dam, on the North Fork Feather River in Butte County.

“I woke up the next morning, and they talked about how devastating it was,” Hilscher said in an interview Sunday. “I sat around for about 30 minutes and thought about what we could do to help.”

Nov. 18, 201810:21

Hilscher, 37, owns the Sexy Panda Food Truck, which sells Asian-themed street food in Sacramento, the state capital. So he called up Alex Hader, who manages the truck, and headed to a restaurant store, where he emptied out his business account.

Soon, “we filled up the truck and went on our way,” bound for Chico, about 90 miles north. They’ve been going 24-7 ever since, handing out supplies and serving thousands of meals a day to victims of the fire from the parking lot of a Walmart, Hilscher said.

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