Nearly 100,000 People Evacuated from California Wildfires
WATCH NOW – Nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated across California from the wildfires, continuing to watch and wait for Mother Nature to bring some relief.
Posted by WeatherNation on Saturday, October 14, 2017
The stories coming out of California are heartbreaking.
“It’s surreal,” said Steve Matthiasson, owner of Matthiasson Wines in Napa County. “When multiple people that you know lose their houses, I mean it’s strange…it’s like a movie.”
George Rose, a photographer in California, described the ongoing fires as the worst he’s even seen. “On a scale from 1 to 10, this is a 15,” Rose said. “It has completely surpassed everybody’s idea of what a wildfire is.”
The nightmare continues for communities across the The Golden State, with more than 220,000 acres burned as of Saturday afternoon, and at least 5,700 structures destroyed.
“The fire just ripped through the canyon and just ripped through the houses,” said Santa Rosa resident Larry Broderick. “One block by one, every half hour or so.”
D’Andre Williams, another resident in Santa Rosa, recalled what it was like seeing neighborhoods completely unrecognizable after the fires moved through.
“All the houses next to Molsberry Markets are gone on the right side of Buns and Burgers, just everything,” Williams said. “The little gas station on the corner of by Bad Ass Coffee, there was brand new little condos that they just made, they all burned down.”
Just within the last week, at least 20 large wildfires burned through neighborhoods in Northern and Southern California, prompting thousands and thousands of evacuations.
“I drive around the block, and I come back around my house, and then I shine the lights on my front yard, that was the last time I saw my house not on fire,” Broderick recalled.
Lauren Cirignano-Mitchell, the owner of Le Cheval Sport Horses in Orange, had only a short time to move her horses to safety.
“There was hundreds of animals that were being evacuated from this area in a very short amount of time,” Cirignano-Mitchell said.
For some, it came down to just minutes and even seconds to escape from the fires.
“I saw the orange glow over the ridge, just to the north, and I asked the officer how close the fire was, didn’t know what was going on,” said Michael Barfield, on vacation with friends in Napa when they were told to leave. “He actually yelled ‘you need to get out of here’ and in the 15 second encounter with him, when I looked backed up at the ridge where the orange glow was coming from, the fire had leap over the ridge and was racing, literally racing down the hill.”
Michella Flores, who had just returned home after surviving the Las Vegas shooting, lost her house in the wildfires that burned through Santa Rosa. She recalled how quickly the fire moved in on her family.
“It literally was no time at all,” Flores said. “And it was at the bottom of our driveway, no time to do anything.”
In addition to homes and neighborhoods being reduced to rubble, businesses are also being impacted.
“It’s just a really tough time right now for all the people that work in restaurants, the limo drivers, tasting rooms, all the hourly workers,” Matthiasson said. “We are hoping that as soon as the smoke clears, and the fires are put out, people will be back again. They won’t cancel their trips, will hopefully extend their trips into the off season, and we can keep our economy going.”
But the threat is not over yet as the weather conditions continue to be closely monitored.
“The fires are still expanding, this is still a live issue,” said Elaine Brown, who lives in Sonoma and writes about wine at WakawakaWineReviews.com. “People are still being evacuated from new areas.”
Nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated so far, continuing to wait for relief to come to their neighborhoods.
“They just keep moving around and so we don’t know,” Matthiasson said. “It’s sort of hour by hour watching the winds, watching the weather and try to figure out which way they are headed and where the danger is.”
For WeatherNation, I’m Meteorologist Meredith Garofalo.