For some of the firefighters who have braved the conflagration, the devastation has hit close to home.
“I’ve been in the fire service for over 30 years, and I’m horrified at what I’ve seen,” said Cal Fire public information officer Jerry Fernandez, who grew up in the Sonoma area. He explained that the fire is at “zero percent containment,” meaning it is not controlled, is continuing to spread, and that greater winds could make the situation worse in the coming hours and days.
“We are at the worst conditions you could have right now,” Fernandez said.
One of the hardest-hit areas was the neighborhood of Coffey Park in Santa Rosa, a suburban area with a diverse mix of people.
In the blocks around Coffey Lane and San Miguel Road, block after block of land is charred, with only a few burned trees, cars, chimneys and bed frames left standing. People walked through the area looking at the devastation, many with paper masks covering their faces to protect from the smoke-filled air.
“We lost everything ― three cars. We took the cats, some paperwork, but that’s it,” said 26-year old Maryanne Rahab, as she stood in the rubble of the house she had been renting in Coffey Park for over a year with her boyfriend, Sean Parsons. They’ve stayed at a friend’s place since they evacuated early Monday, and are hoping to get reimbursed through renter’s insurance.
“What’s next? I don’t know,” she added. “It’s one hour at a time, because even one day is too much.”