November 20, 2018 6:28 pm
Updated: November 21, 2018 4:29 pm

‘I want you to take the baby and run’: California mom asks stranger to save newborn from wildfire if she can’t

WATCH: How hospitals evacuate patients in an emergency


Hours after giving birth, a California mother was faced with the possibility of giving her newborn away.

Rachelle Sanders had just given birth via C-section at a hospital in Paradise, Calif., on Nov. 8 when doctors informed her patients had to evacuate due to the raging Camp Fire.

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READ MORE: Paradise lost — Photos show town before and after the Camp Fire destroyed it

She recounted the experience to CNN, saying she had just gone through surgery and could barely walk. She was put in a wheelchair with her baby and told a hospital employee named David would drive her.

As they attempted to flee, flames fell at times in the middle of the road.

Sanders said that’s when she looked at David and said, if things get worse, “I want you to take the baby and run.”

WATCH: More coverage of California wildfires

She told the San Francisco Chronicle that she sat in the car with her newborn, named Lincoln, for several hours. The baby’s mouth was covered with a mask, while she used her hospital gown to guard her own face from the smoke.

Thankfully, she never had to part from her baby. While the nine-hour drive was harrowing, it ended safely.

“I thought I wasn’t going to make it, for sure. I wasn’t sure any of us were going to make it. It was very, very terrifying,” she said.

The Chronicle reported that Sanders was rerouted to the hospital because roads were blocked. The hospital, despite surrounding fires, remained unharmed.

She was soon able to reunite with her husband and two older children. Sanders told the newspaper that David was also safe, but she didn’t know much else about him.

READ MORE: What started the Camp Fire? California power lines come under scrutiny

Not all those affected by the wildfire were able to escape.

Remains of 79 victims have so far been recovered since the Camp Fire erupted on Nov. 8 and largely obliterated the town of Paradise, a community of nearly 27,000 people.

They have become the deadliest wildfires in California history.

— With a file from Reuters

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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