This woman won't let a shooting, or losing her home in a wildfire, dim her will to live

Michella Flores survived the Las Vegas shooting only to lose her home in a deadly California fire.
by Donna Freydkin / / Source: TODAY

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If you’re searching for the human definition of indefatigable, look no further than former firefighter and paramedic Michella Flores.

Flores, who works as a flight attendant, was at the deadly Oct. 1 country festival that left 58 people dead and hundreds wounded in Las Vegas. After she returned home to Santa Rosa, California, she and her parents fled their home to escape the deadly Sonoma County wildfires. Her house is now rubble after partially surviving the first night of the fire. The next day, it burned down.

Everything was gone, including treasured holiday recipes for cinnamon rolls.

“Unless you've gone through this you don't understand, those little pieces of your life that are in the ash mean something," Flores said. "It's all wrapped up with — with memories. And people go, ‘You can always get other stuff.'"

But not everything is replaceable. "I can't get stuff that I had when I was 2 years old," she said. "It’s gone.”

She helped her fellow firefighters try and douse the flames and watched as her home was on fire. “Never in my wildest dream did I think I was gonna be fighting fire in flats and a skort,” she said — especially after what she'd just been through.

After surviving the Vegas shooting, Flores just wanted to be inside her own four walls.

“When you turn and you're running, it all registers. That's what I heard. That's what was going on. I need to get outta here,” she recalled.

She escaped by hiding behind a slot machine at a nearby casino and returned to work the next day. “You have to keep going,” she said.

This holiday season, Flores and her family are seeking to regain a bit of normalcy in their lives. She keeps returning to her home to search for memories that might have survived the inferno, like Christmas ornaments. She’s already found her mom’s engagement ring.

Flores said she's trying to “find things that mean something to me that still says, you know, ‘This is your home.'"

Her parents didn’t have insurance, so the family is now renting a house, decorated by generous strangers. They've even donated Christmas ornaments. “It's been amazing the amount of people from all over the country that have helped and have sent things,” she said.

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