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Author Topic: Santa Rosa Wildfire  (Read 435 times)

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rockherder

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Santa Rosa Wildfire
« on: January 11, 2018, 05:32:08 PM »

I lost my home, truck, lapidary equipment and most of my rock in the Santa Rosa wildfire.
Its been 3 months now and I'm finally at the point where I can talk about it but the emotions and panic attacks are still with us.

We were first alerted to the fire at 1:15am when our daughter called us to let us know she was being evacuated from her apartment a few miles away.
She drove to our house and told us to pack and get out as soon as we could.  It was around 1:30am.
I walked outside and could smell thick smoke but it was foggy and couldn't really tell how smoky the air was.
Our neighbor sometimes burned garbage in his fireplace and at first that's what I thought I was smelling.
The previous evening the wind had been crazy, blowing harder than I had ever seen and was still wild with leaves and branches being blown down the streets.
My wife and I went back into the house packed two suitcases and grabbed our two dogs, two cats and a small box of possessions consisting of a computer backup drive and some photo albums.
I really did not think that we would not be able to return as our home was in the middle of a large residential neighborhood.
We started carrying stuff out to the car and we could see the fog had turned red and there were several embers 1-4" around falling in our yard.
By this time our neighbors were out in the yard and we told them we were leaving.
We jumped in the car and started driving away (Still had lights in the house).  It was 1:45am.
There were no emergency messages, no phone alerts, no sirens (although there were police and fire trucks driving around the neighborhood).
We drove 5 miles away to a nearby Raley shopping center, it took us 3 hours as everyone was trying to get out.
While we were driving we could see fire tornado's fifty feet tall and trees going up in flames.
Some of our neighbors abandoned their cars (not sure if they were trying to get away quicker or if they had run out of fuel).
Not all of our neighbors were as fortunate as we were.  Some lost pets and a few did not make it out of the neighborhood alive.
Around 6:30 or so it started getting light and we decided to drive back home.
We were about two blocks away when we could see that our entire neighborhood had been destroyed.
We turned around and drove to our son's house near Placerville California where we are now renting a home.

Later we learned that 52 people died that night in wildfires in our county, 3 in our neighborhood.
In our neighborhood over 1500 homes were destroyed and over 5100 were destroyed in the county.
The wildfire moved incredibly fast, 12 miles in 4 hours which is a little over 3 feet a second.
The fires burned over 20000 acres (that's more than a football field every 3 seconds). 

The fire was so hot that the aluminum rims on my truck had melted forming a rivulet of metal down the driveway.
I had 22 metal garbage cans of rock that had been collected over 50 years, I managed to recover 3 the rest were all damaged.
Much of the rock became so brittle that tapping on it with a rock pick crumbled it into small pieces.
I was surprised that even obsidian became so brittle that it was unusable.

In retrospect we were fortunate, we will rebuild but it will take 18-24 months before we can move back.
Eventually I will replace some of the equipment I've lost (Highland Park 18" and Titan) but for now we don't have any place to use them.
We've met some wonderful people that have helped us and I can't express enough my gratitude to our friends and family and the first responders that saved homes behind us.
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-Doug in El Dorado Hills, CA

hummingbirdstones

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Re: Santa Rosa Wildfire
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 06:26:09 PM »

Doug,

I am so sorry you and your family had to go through this.  I can't imagine the emotions you must be feeling as you reflect on all the trauma you, your family and friends have had to endure.  My dad was a firefighter, and I do know the commitment those folks have to do their jobs and put themselves in the face of danger to protect others.

You will rebuild and get back to some sort of normalcy in due time.  I pray for a quick recovery for you and your family and friends.
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Robin

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Re: Santa Rosa Wildfire
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 08:35:08 PM »

Thanks for having the courage to talk about the fire storm that changed and ended so many lives. Best of luck.
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Debbie K

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Re: Santa Rosa Wildfire
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2018, 06:31:57 AM »

I am so sorry that this happened to you. My husband used to live in the area, so we were watching the news and trying to determine which neighborhoods these fires were affecting. There is nothing anyone can say that makes any of what has happened to you and your family any better. Loss is loss, and it shouldn't be minimized. The only good thing, as far as I can see, is that you, your family and your pets are all alive and uninjured.

I honestly don't know which is worse; the floods or the fires. I live in Houston and we had an absolutely catastrophic flood here from Hurricane Harvey. I believe my neighborhood got 51 inches overall, but 47 inches came in less than 24 hours. I only got water in my studio; about 4 inches. I only lost cardboard and paper things that were still on the floor, and as I thought this could happen I had picked almost everything up. Of course, the sheetrock, insulation and wood trim had to be replaced a few feet up, but my inconvenience and damage was really minor. Two blocks from me is where the catastrophic flooding begins and goes on for a 1/2 a mile on either side of the bayou. These folks got 2 to 3 feet of water in their houses. The worst damage of all is near Addicks/Barker dams; they released water from those dams that flooded the surrounding neighborhoods for 11 days. It is safe to say that 100,000's of homes here flooded; the shear magnitude of the damage is overwhelming.

Unless something can be wiped down with fungicide, disinfectant and/or bleach, the water is so contaminated with sewage and environmental waste that it isn't recommended to keep it. So folks try desperately to clean up and salvage things that they often end up throwing away anyhow. I have driven through entire neighborhoods here with everything from inside the house piled up in mountains by the curb. You look at these mountains and know that these were folks' entire lives. We have had so many Chicken Little weathercasters that we have gotten in the habit of minimizing anything they say as they have overhyped and dramatized minor things too many times in the past. So almost all of these people were in their homes when this happened. I suppose they were like me with a plan to go in the attic with a hatchet if it got too high.

I know what you mean about the trauma. I went though a tornado/hail storm nearly 20 years ago and I still get panicky when the weather gets really bad. During this storm, watching the water come up to the door sill, subside, come up again, etc. was worrying, but not the same as the panic that came with the tornado. But it was like a war zone here for days after this flood; the National Guard and everyone else were flying over rescuing folks with helicopters in adjoining neighborhoods.

Fire seems cleaner in a way; you aren't trying to hold on to things that you can't or shouldn't. I helped one friend that lived by the dam that had water in the house for more than a week and was having to be ruthless with her and her things. The only thing that we really tried to salvage were her microscopes; the jury is still out on whether or not they can be reconditioned or repaired.

Insurance seems to pay out better for fire than it does for flood, perhaps because the government is running the flood program. I hope that you get enough of a payout from your insurer that you are able to replace most of what you lost. It's hard sometimes to remember that we are not our things, but a sum total of our experiences and the love that we have for people and that they have for us and that nothing can take that away. I hope you can get back to something near normalcy soon.

Debbie K

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irockhound

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Re: Santa Rosa Wildfire
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2018, 12:09:20 PM »

So Devastating.  We all are tested through our lives some more than others, I have had more than my share.  It is how we make it through these tests that speak of who we are as individuals.  My words are cheap but my thoughts are there for you and hope that you are able to keep up your spirit and recover as best you can.  I kept starting to click reply and then stopped, it is hard to offer words that measure to the loss someone is feeling but I had to reply because I feel your pain and wanted to make sure you know that many people care.  I can't tell you how bad I have felt after some of our tests because I can't remember if I truly thanked everyone who came to the rescue enough.

Steve
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PhilNM

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Re: Santa Rosa Wildfire
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 12:17:54 PM »

Sorry to hear it.   Saw looks refurbishable.... <grin>....   Let us know when you're ready, many of us have more rocks than we need...
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Enchantra

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Re: Santa Rosa Wildfire
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 03:56:55 PM »

So sorry Doug.   :sad5: :sad5:
All I can do is offer my support.  Here in AZ breathing at times was difficult because of all the smoke drifting this way from all the fires.  Those fires were constantly on our minds even though they were hundreds of miles away.  I have a few friends who live in areas affected by fire.  One lives in Santa Barbara and I gave her direct orders that if evacuation was ordered to get on the I-10 and come stay with me.  By some miracle the fire avoided her area.

I am truly sorry you had to go through this living nightmare.
Keep us posted. 
When you are ready we all have rocks we will gladly share.
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Asianfire

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Re: Santa Rosa Wildfire
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2018, 04:27:02 PM »

I'm very sorry to hear about your dramatic experience.
Cant find words that seem appropriate here and now, so better quote Debbie and Steve, who (in my mind said it the best:
 
I am so sorry that this happened to you. There is nothing anyone can say that makes any of what has happened to you and your family any better. Loss is loss, and it shouldn't be minimized. The only good thing, as far as I can see, is that you, your family and your pets are all alive and uninjured.
So Devastating.  We all are tested through our lives some more than others, I have had more than my share.  It is how we make it through these tests that speak of who we are as individuals.  My words are cheap but my thoughts are there for you and hope that you are able to keep up your spirit and recover as best you can.  I kept starting to click reply and then stopped, it is hard to offer words that measure to the loss someone is feeling but I had to reply because I feel your pain and wanted to make sure you know that many people care. Steve

I have seen devastation in the aftermath of natural disasters here in Asia, and been way to close to the Pinatubo disaster in 1991 with its ash-falls and Lahars devastating a whole region. But I was always a relative bystander with an option to leave. So that does not compare........
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bevsmith1960

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Re: Santa Rosa Wildfire
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2018, 05:12:52 PM »

Doug, I am so very sorry for the devastating loss you and your family have suffered. Wishing you the best as you rebuild your lives. I am very thankful that you are here to tell us about it. MOST things can be replaced, you cannot.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

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