Camp Fire survivors open business in Yuba City
Special to The Union
Phoenix Ridge, one of Plumas Street’s newest businesses, rose from the ashes of the Camp Fire.
As the fire pushed closer to their Paradise home last November, owners Mike and LoRee Lampke and their 2-month-old son, Thomas, narrowly made it out with the clothes on the back, a small bag of belongings and what they had in their vehicle. Everything else – their home, countless priceless belongings and their home screen printing business – burned behind them.
“We had no call, no warning, no nothing as far as letting us know what was happening beforehand,” Mike Lampke said. “It took us four and a half hours to get out of Paradise. We were sitting in our vehicle as everything was burning down around us.”
The months that followed have been a rollercoaster for the Lampkes, but they haven’t let the catastrophe stop them from pushing on.
“For us, the biggest challenge has been dealing with the emotions of losing everything. When we moved into our rental in Yuba City, it only took two minutes because all we had to do was open the door and set the bag down,” Mike Lampke said. “But we aren’t the only ones. There are plenty of others here that have the same story, including people that moved from India, who sold everything they had to come live the American dream. The circumstances may be different but we are one in the same.”
The Lampkes have put everything they have into their new business, Phoenix Ridge, including the money they were reimbursed through their renter’s insurance. The name of the business has ties to their former operation that they ran out of a shop behind their Paradise home, which was called Phoenix Vinyl Products.
“We changed it to Phoenix Ridge because everyone knows Paradise is a ridge and the phoenix is a mythical creature that rose from the ashes,” he said.
The business – located in the Hart Plaza at 795 Plumas Street, Yuba City – has officially been open for two weeks, though the Lampkes had been working to get the place up to snuff for the past three or four months. It specializes in screen printing, embroidery and heat transfer vinyl. The shop’s theme is 1870-1910 steampunk, Mike Lampke said.
The Lampkes got their first real taste of downtown Yuba City during the recent Summer Stroll and were impressed.
“The stroll was one of the coolest things I’ve done, walking up and down Plumas Street. We really enjoyed seeing the community band together to have a function like that,” he said.
The business is also one of the newest members of the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce. Marni Sanders, CEO of the chamber, said they were pleased to welcome Phoenix Ridge into the chamber and look forward to helping them grow their business in the coming months and years.
“The Camp Fire devastated so many families and businesses – the impact has been felt far and wide. Our hearts continue to go out to those who have lost so much,” Sanders said. “Phoenix Ridge was no exception when it comes to loss. Despite this unimaginable loss, we are very encouraged to see businesses like Phoenix Ridge begin to rebuild right here in our community.”
The inspiration for the family business was born in that shop behind their Paradise home that has since been demolished by fire. While that will remain with them, the Lampkes are excited for what lies ahead.
“We’d just like to say thank you to everyone for accepting us within your community, throughout the turmoil, strain and rigors of life,” Mike Lampke said. “To welcome us with open arms, you cannot put a price on that.”
Jake Abbott writes for the Marysville Appeal Democrat. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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