Sunday, October 22, 2017

12 & Zen Cancelled As Santa Rosa Burned

A little change from the ordinary -- actually a large change.  For the first time I had to cancel our 12 & Zen gathering this month.  One of those out-of-my-control situations in the form of an outbreak of several wildfires burning nearby. Briefly, here is our story:

October 16, 2017

Dear Friends and Family,

As you well know, we’ve had several fires burning in Sonoma County  [which has turned out to be the most devastating fires in California’s history]. The fire that threatened our home was the Tubbs Fire. 

We are safe and all of the homes on our street have been untouched; but we have more than twenty friends who have lost everything.

Early last Monday, the 9th, I woke up around 2AM.  I could smell something and got up and looked around the house.  I couldn't identify what the smell was. Then I went outside and smelled the smoke. I climbed on top of the roof and this is what I saw, a red glow with the wind blowing from left to right.. 

The hillsides were hidden by the smoke.  We heard propane tanksexploding.

Walking down our street I met a neighbor who was evacuating.  We quickly collected some important papers, the computer’s external hard 
drive, clothes, photo albums and such and put 
them in our camper van.  We drove to nearby Oliver’s Market and waited until daylight.

At daybreak we returned home. I saw some neighbors on top of their roof and I joined them.

About 10AM we heard our area of town had been put on a mandatory evacuation order.  Time to leave.

The arrow shows where our home is.
Incredible how fast this fire spread from the town of Calistoga, 10 +/- miles away to Santa Rosa.  Even the freeway Highway 101 failed as a firebreak. The fire jumped the freeway and totally destroyed Coffee Park, hundreds of homes gone.

The winds, winds, winds.  The closest the fire came to our street was about a block away.  Into the van we went and drove to (son) Matt and Susan’s home in San Rafael.  It was so fortunate to have such a wonderful “evacuation center”. And there we stayed, eyes glued to the TV news and online maps and all.

 As I said, there were fires all over the County.  Upper left is the Tubbs Fire (map below) which affected us. Then two fires merged into one called the Nuns Fire. You can see how it has burned perhaps 2/3rds of Annadel State Park.  Since this picture it has expanded to include Sugarloaf Ridge SP and Hood Mountain Regional Park.  


The south part of Nuns Fire was threatening the town of Sonoma.

This fire to the right is the Atlas Fire in Napa County.  All-in-all I think these fires have burned somewhere around 150,000 acres and over 6000 homes lost.  About 40 people have died from these fires.

On Thursday we decided to drive up to see how things were in the neighborhood.  Matt kindly drove us up. 

We took advantage of this and retrieved our two other cars, parking my car in the Oliver’s Parking lot and driving Beth’s back down to San Rafael.

We also packed up some more clothes and grabbed some other photos and papers.  Getting back to Matt’s we would think of other items we forgot to grab.

The ferocity and losses from this wildfire have been matched by the generosity and selflessness of first responders and regular citizens countywide. Wonderful to witness this!                 

Bill (and Beth)