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tv   60 Minutes  CBS  December 2, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PST

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captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. >> you're about to hear from three former presidents, a rare occurrence in and of itself, discuss the life and legacy of george h.w. bush. >> the mission was not george h.w. bush, the mission was: how do we serve the united states? >> the office was more important than the man. >> the office is more important than the man. it's really one of the most important things for americans to understand. dad taught me this. and, therefore, one of the jobs is to strengthen the institution of the presidency, bring honor to the office. and that, clearly, george h.w. bush did. >> he was a good reminder that as fiercely as we may fight on policy and on issues, that ultimately we're americans first.
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and that kind of attitude is something that i think a lot of people miss. >> it's been one of the great joys of my life, my friendship with him. our arguments were good-natured and open, and-- we continue to debate things all the way up until recently. >> what did he say to you when you were president? >> i love you. and, you know, as corny as that sounds to some-- it is the most important words you can hear in life. >> mandatory evacuations, all of paradise. >> when residents tried to flee the megafire that destroyed paradise, california, local roads turned into gridlocked deathtraps. overwhelmed firefighters were caught, too, until those two lights, a firefighter in a bulldozer, came through the darkness to clear an escape route. >> i mean, who does that? who drives into the flames? he did. >> oncoming.
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>> tonight, heroism and recovery in paradise. >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm scott pelley. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm norah o'donnell >> i'm bill whitaker. those stories, tonight, on "60 minutes." >> cbs money watch sponsored by capital one. welcome to banking reimagined. >> good evening. under a trade truce, the u.s. will hold off on more tariffs. paris has seen its worst riots in half a century over rising fuel prices. rejects her brexit deal. i'm jeff glor, cbs news.
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>> o'donnell: when he passed away, the 41st president of the united states, george herbert walker bush, was 94. his one term in office began in 1989, and coincided with the end of the cold war with the soviet union. you're about to hear from three former presidents, a rare occurrence in and of itself, discuss the life and legacy of george h.w. bush. in recent interviews, barack obama, bill clinton, and george w. bush all acknowledged number 41 was one of the best prepared presidents in american history. before becoming commander-in- chief, he was a fighter pilot, an oilman, a congressman, a diplomat, head of the c.i.a., and ronald reagan's vice president for two terms. he was also married to barbara bush for 73 years, until her death this past april. together they had six children. we begin tonight with their eldest son, president george w. bush, and what his father taught
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him about the highest office in the land. >> george w. bush: the mission was not george h.w. bush, the mission was: how do we serve the united states? how do we help the united states? how do we make the united states better? which is very important in establishing a culture that can succeed. >> o'donnell: that the office was more important than the man. >> george w. bush: the office is more important than the man. it's really one of the most important things for americans to understand. dad taught me this. and, therefore, one of the jobs is to strengthen the institution of the presidency, bring honor to the office. and that, clearly, george h.w. sh did >> o'donnell: and bringing honor to the office, that institution, why is that so important? >> george w. bush: the institution of the presidency is a shock absorber. look, every president has got strengths and weaknesses, west - the country, the ballast of the ship estate, you know, is strong enough to-- withstand either tumultuous times or-- you know,
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the foibles of mankind. >> o'donnell: you said that watching his presidency and the criticism that he got as president helped you. >> george w. bush: yeah. yeah, it did. because, first of all, being a child of a president is unpleasant. i mean, you watch somebody you love get lampooned, or made fun of, or harshly criticized. it hurts. and so by the time i became president, you know, i had to-- a fair amount of asbestos on my skin. and it didn't hurt nearly as much, it turns out. you know? >> o'donnell: it was like fire retardant? >> george w. bush: exactly. fire retardant. ( laughs ) >> o'donnell: did it bother your father to see you criticized while you were in office? >> george w. bush: yeah, it did. in the end, though, you know, we both knew that's part of the job, which is actually good, you know, for the country. i mean, you want your powerful people to be held up to scrutiny. >> o'donnell: when you look back at your father's term in office
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as president, he starts, to many people, look better and better. >> george w. bush: yeah, we all do. ( laughs ) that's the way time works. i think he's going to go down as the greatest one-term president ever. because of-- his foreign policy, deftly handling the end of the cold war, for example, reunification of germany. >> o'donnell: when the soviet union collapsed, like so many times in his career, president bush turned for help to his longtime trusted friend, james baker. >> i, james baker, iii... >> o'donnell: george bush chose james baker for his secretary of state before naming anyone else to his cabinet. the two first met three decades earlier when baker was just a texas lawyer and a tennis player looking for a game. >> james baker: neither one of us had a partner for the doubles-- matches. and so they put us together. and that's how we became friends. we first became tennis doubles partners. tpo're going to make r
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team than we often times did on the tennis courts in texas. >> o'donnell: together, they dealt with the fall of the united states' old cold war rival. ( cheers ) they also faced new turmoil in the middle east, and a war followed. in 1990, the u.s. built a coalition of 33 nations to push saddam hussein and the iraqi army out of kuwait. perhaps no president and secretary of state had known each other so well since james madison and thomas jefferson. >> baker: and i was secretary of state for a president who was all-- who was like a brother. and there was never any question about if i went out and said something, no doubt about whether i was speaking for the president or not. ladies and gentlemen... >> o'donnell: 25 y james baker told us that his friend's four year term in office was one of the most consequential in history. >> baker: i mean look at what
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happened on his watch. the world changed. and we had a peaceful resolution of the cold war. it didn't have to end peacefully. it could have ended with a bang, and not a whimper. george bush was the one who made sure that it ended that way, and took a lot of heat, by the way, from the press, for not dancing on the ruins of the wall when the berlin wall came down. ( cheers ) and notwithstanding all the pressure on him to stick it in gorbachev's eye once the wall came down. he said, "no. we got a lot of business still to do with gorbachev. we're not going to do that." and it was the right thing to do it. and that, as much as anything possibility of a peaceful end of the cold war, as opposed to a cataclysmic end to the cold war. >> barack obama: i think, more than anything, you learn from when you look at your predecessors is, what are the actions they took that you admire? what are the mistakes they made
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that you want to avoid? they tend to be in some ways-- speaking to you through their own record-- continuously. >> o'donnell: former president barack obama awarded george h.w. bush the presidential medal of freedom in 2011, and says he especially admired his foreign policy. >> obama: what people don't appreciate fully-- even within his own party-- is the degree to which he had to land the plane when the berlin wall comes down. you have chaos potentially in the former soviet union and russia. and uncertainty in europe. all those things could have gone haywire at any point. and-- the-- the restraint, the caution, the lack of spiking the football-- that they showed-- was, i think, an enormous achievement. >> o'donnell: the author of a
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new book about your father and the end of the cold war, his name's jeffrey engel, wrote, "bush, as much as anyone else, and certainly more than any other foreigner, can lay claim to being the father of modern germany." >> george w. bush: yeah. i think the germans would tell you that. my friend angela merkel certainly told me that. and-- and the reason why is because he quietly worked to unify germany without calling attention to himself. europeans were very nervous about a unified germany. >> o'donnell: there was a young k.g.b. officer at the time in berlin. ( laughs ) >> george w. bush: yes, he was. >> o'donnell: you know who i'm talking about? >> george w. bush: yeah, i do. >> o'donnell: vladimir putin. >> george w. bush: yeah. >> o'donnell: he wasn't happy about the end of the cold war. >> george w. bush: no, he wasn't. still isn't. and, so-- here's-- here's a george bush story. i learned-- one of the things i learned from him was to give these world leaders kind of special treatment if possible. and i said, "dad, i need a place to bring vladimir putin. would you mind if i brought him to kennebunkport," knowing full well that putin would say, "wow, this is really great." and he said, "not at all."
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and he-- so putin lands, and there's dad at the foot of the stairs to greet him. >> o'donnell: as president, the elder bush was known as a master of "personal diplomacy." and almost 15 years out of office, at the bush family compound in kennebunkport, maine, he still had the knack. >> george w. bush: so he said, "you want to go out on our boat?" and putin said, "oh, i'd love to go." and so putin has this interpreter that's kind of, you know, didn't look like much of an outdoorsman. and the old man opens that thing up full blast and this guy, i'm standing to this interpreter, he's like white knuckles, you know, hanging on to the boat, wondering if he's going to live. and he's cutting through these waves, it's just classic george bush. >> o'donnell: what was putin doing? >> george w. bush: he loved it. you know, putin's kind of one of these macho dudes that-- salt spray coming across, you know, and he thought it was wonderful. it's the interpreter was nerve- racked. ( laughs ) >> o'donnell: george h.w. bush also shared lighthearted moments with two other men who came after him as president.
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>> obama: he was a good reminder that as fiercely as we may fight on policy and on issues, that ultimately we're americans first. and that kind of attitude is something that i think a lot of people miss. >> bill clinton: i think that history will be quite kind to him in his presidency. >> i, william jefferson clinton... >> o'donnell: former president bill clinton says he learned a lot about the character of the man he replaced from a letter. he read us the note george bush left him in the oval office in 1993. >> clinton: "dear bill, when i walked into this office just now i felt the same sense of wonder and respect i felt four years ago. i know you will feel that, too. i wish you great happiness here. i never felt the loneliness some presidents have described. there will be very tough times,
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made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. i'm not a very good one to give advice, but just don't let the critics discourage you or push you off course. you will be our president when you read this note. i wish you well. i wish your family well. your success now is our country's success. i'm rooting hard for you. good luck." this letter is a statement of who he is. that's why he's a world-class human being in my book. >> george w. bush: bill clinton was smart about how he dealt with my dad. he treated him with great respect. and dad is a big enough man to, you know, want to befriend bill. and they've become friends. and-- and-- it's-- it's neat to see. i'm honored to be standing here with two former presidents. >> clinton: and our friendship just got better. and in a world where everybody's just gutting each other all the time, i thought it was a good thing to show.
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>> george h.w. bush: where are you? ( laughs ) >> clinton: i have a-- >> george h.w. bush: he was in a foxhole. >> clinton: no, i got your back back here. it's been one of the great joys of my life, my friendship with him. our arguments were good-natured and open, and-- we continue to debate things all the way up until recently. >> their later-in-life friendship was unlikely given the hard-fought presidential campaign of 1992. >> four more years! four more years! >> george h.w. bush: tonight we come home a little tired, a little worn, but fired up because we're going to win this election tomorrow! >> o'donnell: president bush's hopes of a second-term ended when bill clinton won the presidency with 43% of the vote. texas billionaire ross perot, an independent, took 19%. bush captured only 37% and went
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back home to houston. it was a painful loss. we asked george w. bush about what went wrong. >> george w. bush: he said, "read my lips, no new taxes," and-- which was-- a strong pledge, and then raised taxes for what he thought was good of the country. but, you know, it-- it's a clear lesson of consequences he gave that now infamous pledge at the 1988 republican convention in new orleans. >> the congress will push me to raise taxes and i'll say, "no." and they'll push and i'll say, "no." and they'll push again and i'll say to them, "read my lips, no new taxes." >> o'donnell: was that one of his biggest mistakes? politically it w for se. policy-wise, people had argued it wasn't. but yeah, politically-- >> o'donnell: because he ended up raising taxes and it led to a balance budget over time. >> george w. bush: correct. >> o'donnell: you think that played a big role in his defeat in '92? >> george w. bush: i think it played a big role in-- in-- in fracturing the republican party.
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i don't think it played a role in the general election so much. but in order to win you have to have a solid base. and if your base is fractured, it's going to-- it's really hard to win in american politics. and it fractured his base in the republican party. >> o'donnell: but that was an example, too, where he chose to do the right thing over what was the politically expedient thing, or what he may have said at the time. >> george w. bush: no, that's right. no, i'm-- i'm not arguing if you're right or wrong, i'm just saying politically it was-- it was harmful policy-wise. you know? a lot of people would argue it helped the country. >> obama: all that talk about trying to reduce the deficit required tough choices. it wasn't as if there weren't some serious cuts made as well. he did not enjoy the-- the fruits of his labor. by the time that people saw the benefits of reducing deficits and lower interest rates, he had already-- he had already lost. >> george w. bush: he was able to absorb loss.
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of course, the most stinging one was 1992. >> o'donnell: but the point you make, he had a lot of losses. >> george w. bush: yes, he did. ( laughs ) yeah, and bounced back-- which, you know-- and i think that's an important lesson in life, that you're going to have losses in life. and the question is: how do you deal with them? >> o'donnell: george h.w. bush was the last president of the greatest generation. that part of the story when we come back. mitzi: psoriatic arthritis tries to get in my way? watch me. ( ♪ ) mike: i've tried lots of things for my joint pain. now? watch me. ( ♪ ) joni: think i'd give up showing these guys how it's done? please. real people with active psoriatic arthritis are changing the way they fight it. they're moving forward with cosentyx. it's a different kind of targeted biologic. it's proven to help people find less joint pain
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>> o'donnell: george herbert walker bush's life spanned the most important geopolitical events of the 20th century. on his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the navy and became one of the youngest american fighter pilots in world war ii. 50 years later, as commander-in- chief, he helped secure a peaceful end to the cold war. in retirement, he decided it would be fun to jump out of
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airplanes and sky dive until he was 90. but it was more than his achievements and his hobbies that made the man and the president unique. in historical terms, he was the last of his kind. >> jon meacham: i think we have to really think about this, because george herbert walker bush was the last president of the world war ii generation. from roosevelt to truman to eisenhower to kennedy to nixon to ford to carter to reagan, they had all been shaped by the depression and the war. >> o'donnell: historian jon meacham spent about a decade interviewing president bush for his biography of the 41st president. >> meacham: to me, his story begins on his 18th birthday. three things happened. he turned 18, he graduated from andover, and he drove to boston and took an oath as a naval enlistee. went to flight school, became what we believe to be the youngest flying officer in the navy. >> george w. bush: u.s. gets attacked and he makes up his
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mind that he wants to serve his country-- even though his dad, who he loved dearly-- suggested he got to college first. >> o'donnell: where did he get that sense of duty, honor, country? >> george w. bush: i think his father-- his dad was in world war i. pretty confident that's where he got it. >> o'donnell: i read the only time he saw his own father cry was when he left. >> george w. bush: yeah, at the train station. that's right. turned 18 years old and, right after his 18th birthday, goes in and his dad wept. >> o'donnell: he flew a total of 58 combat missions in the pacific. september 2, 1944 was nearly his last, when lieutenant bush and his two crewmates were shot out of the sky by the japanese. >> meacham: the plane is hit. the wings go up in flames. the cockpit fills with smoke, but he keeps going. he takes out the tower, he goes back out. he realizes he's about to go down. he tells his two crewmates to hit the silk to get out, and then he bails out. he gashes his head on the tail
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of the plane, plunges into the sea, comes up, hretchi seawater, and he realizes that his two crewmates have not made it. and to some extent, i think that every day since that saturday in the pacific, he's been trying to justify that he was spared when other men were fated to die. >> o'donnell: four hours after his plane went down, bush was plucked from the pacific by the crew of the u.s.s. finback. an officer on board the submarine captured the rescue on eight millimeter film. >> george w. bush: one time i said, "dad, do you ever think about the war?" this was late-- much later. he said, "i think about delaney and white all the time." >> o'donnell: his two crew members. >> george w. bush: yeah. by the way, he wasn't the only guy, of course, who went through that experience. i mean-- it kind of defined a generation, world war ii did. and i think it enabled him to be, you know, a strong leader. >> o'donnell: after the war, bush went to yale university, where he was a member of the skull and bones secret society and played first base on the
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baseball team. >> george w. bush: he was captain of a great baseball team. and a bunch of these world war ii guys came back to yale and they were in the n.c.a.a. finals twice. >> o'donnell: could he have played in the majors? >> george w. bush: no. good fielder, just couldn't hit. if you can't hit, you go-- don't go to the majors. >> but he did graduate phi beta kappa in just two and a half years. by then, he had married barbara pierce who became his partner in life and politics. >> barbara bush: my job is to go out and talk about george bush the man and this well-qualified person and i like doing it. nobody asked me to do it. that's what i do. i don't give advice.te you thi? >> barbara bush: i don't take it very well either i might add. >> o'donnell: when she died this past april, barbara bush had been married to george bush for 73 of her 92 years. it was the longest marriage between a president and first lady in american history. >> clinton: and they probably both would hasten to say that
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their lives-- they both did more than they would have, either one of them, if they hadn't been together. i mean, they're a remarkable, amazing partnership. >> george w. bush: this is a guy who-- by the way, who goes to yale, is kind of the star at yale, baseball captain, phi beta kappa, and was expected to go to wall street-- and he decides to move to odessa, texas. and he goes out there and rents a duplex. this is an oilfield boomtown now in '48. and-- and our neighbors in this duplex were hookers. >> o'donnell: really? >> george w. bush: yeah. and we shared the bathroom with them. >> o'donnell: what did barbara pierce bush think about that? >> george w. bush: yeah, i don't know. ( laughs ) but i'm-- i thankfully was not old enough to know. >> o'donnell: when i talked to your mom last time, she said that he never says, "no," to her. >> george w. bush: well that's why they stayed married for 70 years. it's a true love story. as mother said, "it's the only man i ever kissed."
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>> o'donnell: in 1953, the bushes lost their second child, robin, to leukemia when she was only three years old. but the family continued to grow. george w., joined by jeb, neil, marvin, and finally doro, settled in houston in 1959. it was there james baker became almost like a member of the family. after baker lost his first wife to cancer, george bush asked him to join his campaign for the senate in 1964, as a way to help him cope with his grief. george bush's father, prescott bush, was a senator from connecticut until 1963. and approved of his son's decision to join the family business. >> baker: it was pretty much in his blood. >> george h.w. bush: i had inculcated into me by a fantastic father a sense of
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service to my country. >> baker: he used to go around in some of those early races, and he would say, "my dad inculcated in me an appreciation of public service." i said, "george, stop talking about inculcated. you're running in texas. nobody understands that down here. ( laughs ) so i think he probably intended to go into politics from the very beginning. >> o'donnell: he lost that first race for the senate in 1964, and another one in 1970. but never gave up on the idea he could be president. >> baker: i've never known a more competitive person in my life. very competitive. well, he ran for president of the united states when he was an asterisk in the polls. nobody took it seriously. and in '79, people laughed at us. i had people in texas say, "why are you doing this?" i said, "because this is my friend. and i think he will make an
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extraordinarily good president." every last thing has to be agreed to. >> o'donnell: james baker is the only man in history to be the white house chief of staff, the secretary of the treasury, and the secretary of state. but the most important role in his life may have been that of friend to george h.w. bush. >> baker: he's a huge-- he's a huge part of my life. and-- there were a lot of people who helped me along the way, but the guy who really got me going, got me started, turned me around at a time in my life-- i've said if i were ever going to become an alcoholic, it's when i lost that wife, and left me with and he was there for me and he's been there for me ever since. ( cheers ) >> o'donnell: during the disputed presidential election of 2000, james baker led the legal effort that ultimately won the white house for his old
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friend's eldest son. in the 241 year history of the republic, only two fathers and sons have become president: john adams and john quincy adams, and george herbert walker bush and george w. bush. >> george w. bush: that i will faithfully execute the office of president of the united states. >> o'donnell: how proud of you was he when you became president? >> george w. bush: oh, man. he was-- ( laughs ) you know, my favorite story about all that is i just had got sworn in and andy card said, "why don't you go down to the oval and see what it feels like as president?" and i said, "okay." so i went down, sitting down there and just kind of taking it all in, and in walks dad. so andy had told dad that i was down there. and he walks down and i said, "mr. president, welcome." he said, "thank you, mr. president." and that's pretty much all that was said for a while. and it was a very profound moment for me. >> o'donnell: what did he say to you when you were president?
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what kind of-- >> george w. bush: i love you. and, you know, as corny as that sounds to some-- it is the most important words you can hear in life. you don't hear a lot of people say, "i love you," when you're president. ( laughs ) >> o'donnell: your father was never comfortable with the word "legacy." >> george w. bush: yeah, neither am i. >> o'donnell: called it the-- the "l" word. right? >> george w. bush: neither am i. >> o'donnell: why? >> george w. bush: because-- it's-- it's kind of self- serving. you know? look at me. and the other thing is, is that there's-- if you really think about it, the notion of your contributions to the country will never be fully known until there's a passage of time. >> o'donnell: but as his eldest son, what would you say his legacy is? >> george w. bush: first of all, one of the things about his presidency is that he followed a big figure in presidential politics, ronald reagan. i mean, ronald reagan cast a giant shadow. and he should. i mean, he's a transformative president. and secondly, historians tend to focus on two-term presidents.
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and so i feel really good about people, if they analyze not only his accomplishments but his character, they'll say, "job well done, george h.w. bush." >> sshes sports hq is presented by progressive insurance. i'm james brown with the scores from the n.f.l. today. the rams clinched the n.f.c. west for the second straight year. green bay loses and fires head coach mike mccarthy. houston runs its winning streak the nine. baltimore wins its third in a row. denver gets their third straight win. the jags snap indy ice five-game win streak. for 24/7news and highlight, visit
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>> whitaker: the morning of november 8, a massive wildfire tore through california mountain communities north of sacramento. because it started near camp
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creek road, it was called "the camp fire." the cause is still under investigation, but within a couple of hours, it devoured the town of paradise, population 27,000. about 95% of paradise was lost; its smaller neighbors, concow and magalia, were all but destroyed. until now, last year's wildfire in california's wine country was the worst on record in the state. the federal climate report released last month warns increasing extreme heat and drought conditions could make future wildfires even worse. tonight, we'll take you into the camp fire, and show you what the firefighters saw. that video, and the destruction, had us wondering how anything could be worse. this is paradise-- or what remains of it. block after ashen block of
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burned houses and ruined lives. three weeks ago, children played here. people shopped here. and families prayed here. the wildfire that roared through paradise was as random as it was merciless. in just a few, terrifying hours, it killed about 90 people and destroyed almost 19,000 buildings, businesses and homes. paradise sits in the heart of butte county. on the morning of november 8, county sheriff and coroner kory honea woke up and saw an ominous glow. he knew it was a fire, and it was heading his way. so, at what point in the morning did you realize that you had to evacuate this whole town? >> sheriff kory honea: i think the best way that i can characterize it is-- it was outrunning us before we even knew we were in a race, or what direction the race was going to take us. it was dark. it seemed like it was nighttime
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because the smoke had blocked out the sun. ash and embers were raining down. and as the fire grew closer, there was this real sense of it being hell on earth. >> mandatory evacuations, all of paradise. get people moving now. >> whitaker: the sheriff quickly mobilized his deputies. firefighters raced to defend the town, but they were overwhelmed. the fire was too fast and too big. strike team 9231c found themselves driving straight into the inferno. the crew shot this video from the truck. captain john jessen was behind the wheel. he told us he's seen many wildfires in his 24 years as a california state firefighter, but all paled compared to this. what made this one so different? >> john jessen: the fire front that was coming up the canyon was literally miles long and 200-foot flame lengths.
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it's hard to describe how fast this fire was moving. >> whitaker: residents fleeing the maelstrom had turned all routes out of paradise into grid-locked death traps. the strike team got caught in the traffic jam. >> why are these people here? they need to get the ( bleep ) out of here! >> whitaker: panicked people abandoned their cars. a sheriff's deputy captured the chaos on his body cam. four people made their way to the strike team truck, including eva walker. what was the fire doing at this point? >> eva walker: the bushes were catching on fire. the trees were on fire. so, you're moving to get away from the flames, but there's nowhere to move to. >> whitaker: she thought she'd been saved when the strike team pulled her into the truck. captain jessen made a desperate radio call for air support, but the smoks too th t p from above. firefighter casey peck quietly started to pray.
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>> casey peck: i was just thinking to myself, just praying, like, "please, lord, be merciful. and watch over us. watch over our families." >> whitaker: you were praying for your life? >> peck: yeah. >> whitaker: just then, through the darkness, two lights appeared. a firefighter driving a bulldozer responded to jessen's call for help, and started clearing an escape route. >> walker: and all of a sudden, the bulldozer-- who, i swear to god is an angel-- was the one who came through. i don't know where that man came from. i mean, who does that? who drives into the flames? he did. >> whitaker: you called him an angel? >> walker: called him an angel. he saved all of us.>>keelas bulldozer driver joe kennedy. >> joe kennedy: so, i was taking the burning cars and pushing them off the road, away from the people and the cars that weren't on fire. >> whitaker: sam layton was behind kennedy in another fire truck.
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both opened their doors to let people in. >> sam layton: it was a blessing and a curse to go to that fire. but i'm happy that i was there to help people. >> whitaker: layton, kennedy and the strike team took nine civilians to safety-- then turned around, went back in and saved more. >> kennedy: there's points where you're scared, or where you think, "i shouldn't have come this far into the fire." but at-- at the same time, you have to keep going because lives and property are at stake. >> honea: we were in a situation where there weren't enough fire engines and there weren't enough law enforcement officers. >> whitaker: the resources all overwhelmed by this fire? >> honea: absolutely. >> whitaker: how would you describe this fire? >> ken pimlott: apocalyptic. >> whitaker: using this new tool, ken pimlott, chief of the california department of forestry and fire protection, showed us how fast the camp fire spread. computerized projections on this 3d map chart the course of the fire. pn thdid the fire start? community of pulga at about 6:30
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in the morning on november 8. and it was quickly accelerated by 40-mile-an-hour winds coming from the north. >> whitaker: look at this. >> pimlott: yeah. the fire was growing at this time at a rate of one football field a second. so, an acre a second. >> whitaker: a football field a second. >> pimlott: yes. within two hours, the fire is impacting the community of paradise. it took 12 hours to essentially consume-- all of that, at a record pace. >> whitaker: how many acres in total? >> pimlott: 153,300 acres. >> whitaker: wow. what's going on? everyone says that this is the new normal. >> pimlott: we're now, every year, seeing fires like this that are becoming more and more extreme. we had five years of drought. the vegetation is just-- it's critically parched. our temperatures, the mean temperature in the state, is going up. and so, these are all factors that are just really a combination of things that are driving very extreme events. >> whitaker: the same day wildfire razed paradise, the woolsey fire erupted in southern california. the wind whipped flames killed
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three people, destroyed 1,500 structures, and burned more than 90,000 acres in and around malibu. the brown, fire-scarred terrain can be seen from space. californians have to learn to live with fires like this? >> pimlott: these fires are showing no sign of letting up. there's no reason for them to stop, based on the conditions that we're seeing. >> hey, any luck in tracking that fella down? >> whitaker: as sheriff, kory honea is coordinating law enforcement's response in paradise. >> honea: this is horrible work, and i'm sorry that you have to do it. >> whitaker: as coroner, he's overseen the search of every structure burned in the fire, looking for remains. the fire, there were nearlyof 1,300 people unaccounted for. that number has fallen to 25. how do you check every site? >> honea: it's unprecedented. we have brought in search teams
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from all throughout california, urban search and rescue, coroner's teams, forensic anthropologists, to see if we can determine whether or not there are human remains there. and if there are, of course we want to recover them and do what's necessary to return those remains to the family. >> whitaker: can you tell me what the search team is doing behind us right now? >> honea: because this fire burned so hot and so intensely, those remains are often completely consumed or nearly completely consumed. and so, these guys are looking for bones or bone fragments, which is why we have the anthropologist here to help identify those. >> whitaker: search crews and volunteer anthropologists and medical examiners meticulously sifted through ash and debris, as though on an archaeological dig, zeroing in on bathrooms, front doors, porches-- places people might seek shelter or get trapped. it was detailed, sacred work. remains were removed in blue body bags.
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some, the charred fragments fit in brown paper bags. all the body bags were brought to the morgue in sacramento. so once you get these remains, how are you trying to identify who the victim is? >> honea: early on, we were able to use some of the more traditional means of identifying human remains-- including fingerprints, dental records, things of that nature. and we'll continue to do that where that's possible. but at this point, what we're finding m-- we're going to mostly have to rely upon d.n.a. analysis. >> whitaker: in mass casualty disasters, identifying remains using d.n.a. normally takes months. the sheriff turned to a new, rapid d.n.a. identification technology. it was used here for the first time in a disaster zone. inventor dr. richard selden says he can identify remains in just hours.
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these victims were incinerated. how much material do you need to analyze, to come up with a match? >> dr. richard selden: just a swab, a q-tip that had been rubbed against the right tissue or a small fragment of bone-- sometimes a small fragment of muscle or liver. that very small fragment would allow us to get the-- the d.n.a. i.d. and in-- in many, many cases, solve the case, make the identification. >> whitaker: did you fear or worry that you might not be able to get some material that you could use to identify people? >> selden: i was shocked when i saw the first remains. the kind of samples i handled, i was pretty sure weren't going to work. i told our technical team, "let's do it anyway, 5% chance." and the first eight samples all worked perfectly. >> whitaker: selden set up shop in a rented r.v. in the coroner's parking lot. he took a process that once
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required an entire lab, and shrunk it down to a piece of plastic. swabs of body tissue or bone are placed inside what he calls the "chip," where d.n.a. is purified and separated. the results are matched with d.n.a. samples provided by relatives. by the end of last week, 41 victims had been identified, 31 of them with rapid d.n.a. has the technology proven true to the promise? >> honea: we've been very-- very pleased with the technology, not only in terms of its ability to confirm the identities, but the speed with which it's able to do that. the longer that process is, the worse it is for the family, in my view. >> whitaker: 78-year-old marie wehe lived alone in the deep woods just outside paradise. ch, bonnie and tommy, and his wife lisa, last heard from marie the night before the fire. >> bonnie wehe: she said, "i love you."
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and, "i love you too." ( cries ) i haven't spoke to her since. >> whitaker: for 12 days, they searched and hoped to find marie in a shelter. they heard the sheriff was encouraging relatives of the missing to provide d.n.a. samples. five days after bonnie and tommy gave their swabs, a match was made. their mother's remains were found in her truck, not far from her house. what does that knowing-- >> bonnie wehe: we-- we-- >> whitaker: --do for you? >> lisa wehe: --know she's been found. >> tommy wehe: it's on the road to recovery. i don't know if you can ever say we'll ever recover from this. but it gives us peace of mind to know that we can try-- >> bonnie wehe: but she's been found. >> tommy wehe: --to get some closure. and that we have found her. so that-- >> bonnie wehe: yeah. >> lisa wehe: she's not going to be missing forever. >> tommy wehe: no. >> whitaker: the camp fire destroyed just about everything in paradise. after fires like this, nature has a way of rebounding.
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e queson is, can paradise? >> honea: on the morning of november 8, there was a thriving community. and in a matter of hours, it's wiped out, it's gone. >> whitaker: how do you recover from something like this? >> honea: well, when that happens, i'll let you know. but, we have a long road ahead of us. >> reporting on the campfire in a way that respects the dead and the missing, a conversation with a team at ! ♪ owen's gonna do it! ♪ i got him. ♪ come on, come on, come on! alright! come on, come on! come on! yeah!
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♪ so how about another game? (man) don't ...go...down...oh, no! aaaaballooned your car. call meeeee! (burke) a fly-by ballooning. seen it, covered it. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪ ( ♪ )
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>> pelley: i'm scott pelley. we'll be back next week with another edition of "60 minutes."
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♪ not long ago, ronda started here. and then, more jobs began to appear. these techs in a lab. this builder in a hardhat... ...the welders and electricians who do all of that. the diner staffed up 'cause they all needed lunch. teachers... doctors... jobs grew a bunch. what started with one job spread all around. because each job in energy creates many more in this town.
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captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. captioned by media access group at wgbh
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hey, everybody. garth brooks here in iconic notre dame locker-room. this is where the players go out to take the field every saturday. this is where all our players are getting ready to take the field for this concert. so tonight the fighting irish, they're gonna become the singing irish. this is gonna be good. ♪ (cheering, shouting) crowd (chanting): we want garth! we want garth! yeah! we want garth! we want garth! we want garth! (marching band playing intro to "all day long")


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