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The Press Democrat

Entry Guide, 2018 Best of the West
Breaking News Reporting

2 Print: Overview of Day 1 print report
published on Oct. 10.

5 Story 1: Firestorm lays waste
8 Story 2: SR’s Coffey Park neighborhood leveled,
displacing thousands

10 Story 3: Neighborhood set ablaze
12 Story 4: Caught between wildfires, vineyards,
homes destroyed

15 How we covered the first 24 hours of California’s
most destructive fire

25 Multimedia: How we used video on Facebook Live
and YouTube

26 Multimedia: Links to video and galleries produced
during the first 24 hours
To view multimedia links in this document: Download the full
document PDF from Scribd, open in Acrobat or Preview and click the
active links. You can also copy links from within Scribd and paste into
a new browser window or tab.

California Wildfires • 1 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

A2 NORTH COAST FIRESTORM THE PRESS DEMOCRAT • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017

Residents warned of unhealthy air
Wildfires send pollution Late Monday morning, Napa Setting air conditioning to re-
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017 • SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA • PRESSDEMOCRAT.COM was at 159 and San Rafael at 164, circulate air rather than pull in
levels soaring; smoke she said. outside air also is recommended,
expected to linger The district has no monitor in she said.
Santa Rosa. Breezy conditions, with north
FOUNTAINGROVE » SONOMA VALLEY » REDWOOD VALLEY » By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Air quality above 100 is con-
sidered “unhealthy for sensitive
winds gusting more than 30 mph,
continued through Monday
groups,” and from 151 to 200 is morning, but were expected to
Neighborhoods razed Area ‘like a ghost town’ At least 2 dead as blaze Heavy smoke from wildfires unhealthy. ease overnight and shift to a flow
in Sonoma and Napa counties Roselius said she could not from the south, National Weath-
in north Santa Rosa as fires flank Highway 12 spreads toward Willits prompted a smoke advisory recall another time in which air er Service meteorologist Roger
throughout the Bay Area, with quality indexes were so high for Gass said.
air quality readings in some ar- such a sustained period. Temperatures in the Sonoma

FIRESTORM
eas well above the level consid- Particulate matter in smoke and Napa county fire area hit the
ered “very unhealthy,” the re- can irritate the eyes and airways, mid- to upper-80s Monday and
gion’s air board said. which can cause coughing, a were expected to cool by about
The Bay Area Air Quality Man- scratchy throat and irritated si- 10 degrees today, he said.
agement District said a monitor nuses, the district said. Smoke Humidity was in the teens
in Napa recorded an air quality causes a greater risk to the el- Monday but was expected to rise
index of 442 Monday morning, derly, children and people with to 60 to 85 percent overnight, es-
with a high of 292 in San Rafael. respiratory illnesses. pecially in North Bay valleys,
Air quality indexes of 201 to 300 “If it smells smoky or looks while the hills remain drier.
are considered “very unhealthy,” smoky, it’s a good time to stay Smoke will linger in the air in

LAYS WASTE
ALVIN JORNADA / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
said Kristine Roselius, a district indoors and especially to avoid the two counties, especially to A thick layer of smoke settles over West Road in Redwood Valley on
spokeswoman. exercise,” Roselius said. the west of the fires, Gass said. Monday. Air throughout the North Bay remained “very unhealthy.”

2 schools destroyed, more damaged
Hidden Valley Satellite,
Redwood Adventist burn;
others shut through week
By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cardinal Newman High School
and neighboring Roseland Colle-
giate Prep sustained significant
damage early Monday, while a
small elementary school and a
K-12 Christian school burned to
the ground.
Hidden Valley Satellite Ele-
mentary, which serves about
80 primary grade students, was
destroyed by the Tubbs fire,
which claimed the lives of at
least seven Santa Rosa residents
and burned tens of thousands
of acres across Sonoma and
Napa counties. The Hidden Val-
ley campus is located on Parker
Hill Drive and is adjacent to the
Sleepy Hollow neighborhood
that was scorched in the fire.
Over the hill to the west, about
half of Cardinal Newman High
was destroyed by fire. The li-
brary, main office and portable
classrooms were burned, accord-
ing to Principal Graham Ruther-
ford.
He estimated that 15 to 18 of
ALVIN JORNADA / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
the school’s 35 classrooms likely
are destroyed. The Cardinal Newman High School main office smolders after the Tubbs fire burned through north Santa Rosa on Monday.
Classes for the roughly
620 Cardinal Newman students
will be canceled for the remain-
der of the week, Rutherford said.
“The challenge for us is going
to be how much classroom space
KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT do we have that we can use and
A Cazadero firefighter struggles to protect a home from catching fire Monday morning in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa. Tens of thousands of residents were forced to flee their what do we do with everybody
homes hours before sunrise early Monday as flames raced through neighborhoods. By nightfall, the Tubbs fire, which began in Napa County, was still uncontrolled on many fronts. else,” he said.
Rutherford said determining
what is still usable on the Old

Inferno kills 7, Redwood Highway campus will
dictate how officials proceed.
Roseland Collegiate Prep, on
the former Ursuline High School
leaves ‘complete campus that borders Newman,
also sustained damage.
Redwood Adventist Academy
devastation’ on Mark West Springs Road was
destroyed. ERIK CASTRO / FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
An awning burns beside the locker area on the campus of Cardinal
ALVIN JORNADA / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

With evacuation orders issued Fallen power lines lie on Parker Hill Road near Santa Rosa’s Hidden Valley
By MARY CALLAHAN, PAUL PAYNE, TRACKING across Santa Rosa, scores of Satellite Elementary School, which was destroyed by fire. Newman High School on Monday in Santa Rosa.
RANDI ROSSMANN, JULIE JOHNSON FIRES’ TOLL campuses were closed Monday
AND J.D. MORRIS The single-day and more will be closed today, Charter School, SCOE alterna- in a statement. “Once safety is Oslund said. ors and but also social-emotional
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT said officials from the Sonoma tive education, Sonoma County secured, we must come togeth- Approximately 300 of Ukiah counselors.”
toll of the Tubbs
fire made it the County Office of Education. Schools, Sonoma Valley Unified, er to support the many in our High’s 1,600 students are expect- In addition to Ukiah High,
A raging firestorm born in the dark of worst disaster on Schools in the following dis- Two Rock, Twin Hills, Two Rock, community who will be in need ed to be displaced by the fires, evacuation centers have been
night by dry, violent winds roared down record in Sonoma tricts will be closed today: West Side, Wright, West Sono- of shelter, supplies and comfort. along with teachers and other established at the following
from the rural hills bordering Napa and County. Five Santa Rosa City Schools, ma County Union High, Wilmar, Schools are truly safe havens staff members. Oslund expects schools: Analy High School,
Sonoma counties early Monday and cut other fires were Petaluma City Schools, Cota- Windsor and Wright. where all can gather.” that when Ukiah High reopens, 6950 Analy Ave.; Elsie Allen High
a devastating swath into Santa Rosa uncontrolled as ti-Rohnert Park, Alexander Val- Santa Rosa Junior College and In Mendocino County, all Men- the school will have on hand re- School, 599 Bellevue Road; Cook
from its eastern outskirts, killing at least of Monday. ley, Bellevue, Bennett Valley, all affiliated campuses and pro- docino Office of Education pro- sources including counselors. Middle School, 2480 Sebastopol
seven city residents and destroying more Cinnabar, Cloverdale, Dunham, grams, including online classes, grams were closed Monday and Oslund said he spent time on Road; and Sonoma Valley High
INSIDE
than 1,500 struc-
tures.
5,000 Forestville, Gravenstein, Geyser-
ville, Guerneville, Healdsburg,
will be closed today.
“We are still learning the im-
will remain shuttered today as
will all Ukiah Unified schools.
the phone Monday with Bill Rod-
erick, who as principal steered
School, 2000 Broadway.
■ Unimaginable Tens of thousands
Acreage of
Nunns fire in
BETH SCHLANKER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT Harmony, Horicon, Kashia, Ken- pact of these devastating fires Ukiah High School, at 1000 Low Middletown High through the You can reach Staff Columnist
destruction in SR’s of people were forced Liliana Contreras-Salgado sits with her daughters Gloria, 2, left, and Fatima, 6, on Monday in front wood, Liberty, Mark West, Monte on our community as this situa- Gap Road, is open as a Red Cross deadly Valley fire in Lake Coun- Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671
hillside Fountaingrove to flee their homes Sonoma County
of where their home used to be before it was destroyed by fire in Santa Rosa. Rio, Oak Grove, Old Adobe, Path- tion unfolds. I urge everyone to shelter. ty in 2015. or kerry.benefield@pressdemo-
neighborhood / A3 hours before sun-
■ A deadly Redwood rise, when the ruin
19,000 ways Charter, Piner Olivet, Rin- make safety their top priority,” “In all likelihood, this shelter “We are really fortunate,” Os- crat.com, on Twitter @benefield

Valley wildfire caused wrought by flames
at least 2 fatalities in several terrifying
Acreage of
Redwood
Complex fires
SR’s Coffey Park neighborhood con Valley, Roseland, Sebastopol
Union, Sebastopol Independent
Sonoma County Schools Super-
intendent Steve Herrington said
is going to be in place when stu-
dents return,” Principal Gordon
lund said. “We have really invest-
ed not only in guidance counsel-
and on Instagram at kerry.
benefield.

hours became ap-
with more deaths
expected / A3 parent over a rural
■ Carnage of natural and urban landscape
in Mendocino
County leveled, displacing thousands GENERAL NEWSROOM ADVERTISING TODAY IN HISTORY LOTTERY GAMES
spanning more than
27,000
The Press
disaster captured in
50 square miles. In By ROBERT DIGITALE Their neighborhood, a compact subdivi- 707-546-2020 707-526-8585 Classified: 1845: The U.S. Naval Academy FRIDAY, OCT. 6, 2017, DRAW
images as the day Acreage of
Sonoma County THE PRESS DEMOCRAT sion of modest single-family homes built Hours: 8:30 a.m.-11 p.m. 707-546-7355 was established in Annapolis, Mega Millions Jackpot $30 million
unfolded / A6, A7 M-F, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Democrat
alone, officials said Tubbs fire in decades ago, was witness to a kind of un- Outside Santa Rosa: 800-675-5056 M-F, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Maryland.
Sonoma and Address: 427 Mendocino Ave., 21 33 36 45 56 12 Mega
100 people were reported missing. The wind screamed past the front of Gor- fathomable destruction Monday. Whole city Santa Rosa 95401
Fax: 707-521-5330 Petaluma: 795-2223
For thousands of firefighters and res- Napa Counties don Easter’s northwest Santa Rosa home blocks were claimed by fire, displacing per- Photo reprints: Order online at Toll-free: 800-649-5056 1938: Nazi Germany completed its OCT. 10, 2017, JACKPOT: $36 MILLION
Chief Executive Officer/Publisher: Steve Falk annexation of Czechoslovakia’s
idents trying to protect homes, the fire early Monday as emergency officials drove haps several thousand people from an area Chief Financial Officer: Stephen Daniels pressdemocrat.com/reprints www.pressdemocrat.com
driven by gusts up to 68 mph was an 25,000 by and announced over loudspeakers that it with more than 1,000 homes. Owned locally by Chief Revenue Officer: Karleen Arnink-Pate
Chief Digital Revenue Officer:
Website: info@pressdemocrat.com Display: Sudetenland
SATURDAY, OCT. 7, 2017, DRAW
amorphous, unstoppable force, rampag- Acreage of was time for residents to go. The ashen fallout was so complete that it Executive Editor: Catherine Barnett 707-546-2020, ext. 0 1985: U.S. fighter jets forced an Powerball Jackpot $112 million
Jose del Castillo Managing Editor: Ted Appel M-F, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
ing through Mark West Springs, Lark- Atlas fire in Across the street, in the predawn dark, left many residents at a loss for words when Chief Operations Officer: Troy Niday Deputy Managing Editor: Eric Wittmershaus
Egyptian plane carrying the
10 49 61 63 65 07 Power
field and Wikiup, and Fountaingrove, Napa County Ben Hernandez and his family prepared to they returned to survey the damage Monday Digital Director: Annika Toernqvist Staff directory: pressdemocrat.com/staff hijackers of the Italian cruise
where it claimed hundreds of upscale leave as the sky showered down woody de- afternoon. ship Achille Lauro to land in Italy, OCT. 11, 2017, JACKPOT: $128 MILLION
Santa Rosa houses tucked into forested 3,000 bris aglow in flame. Fire has long been a threat for residents in
Darius Anderson, Managing Member
SUBSCRIPTIONS where the gunmen were taken
hillsides. Acreage of “You could see embers falling the size of the wooded hills across Highway 101 to the into custody. SATURDAY, OCT. 7, 2017, DRAW
Steve Falk, Chief Executive Officer Phone: 707-575-7500 | Email: allaccess@pressdemocrat.com | issue, your account will be charged up to $3.00 in the billing period when the
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Bill Hooper, Chief Operating Officer
TURN TO FIRESTORM » PAGE A10 Napa County nandez Jr. TURN TO COFFEY PARK » PAGE A11 Call Center Hours: Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. | Sat. and holidays
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THE PRESS DEMOCRAT • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017 A3 A4 NORTH COAST FIRESTORM THE PRESS DEMOCRAT • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017

BLAZE
The North Coast CONTINUED FROM A3
County fire. But around
11:30 p.m. they got a call
from friends who were
evacuating from their home
FOUNTAINGROVE » COMPLETE DESTRUCTION off Porter Creek Road and
urged them to do the same.
Her husband started
packing furiously, but Weit-
zenberg remained less con-
cerned, she said.
“I have a pretty positive
attitude, so I still wasn’t
thinking it was going to
happen to my house,” said
Weitzenberg, director of
public policy for the Santa
Rosa Metro Chamber.
But when the power
went out and she went to
charge her cellphone in her
car, Weitzenberg saw her
Southridge Drive neigh-
bors gathered in the street
looking with concern at a
sky glowing ominously. Her
younger brother, who lives
higher up on Fountain-
grove, said he could see the CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
fire approaching. A Bodega Bay firefighting crew works on protecting a structure Monday by trying to knock down flames on a neighboring house in the Fountaingrove area.
Worried they could be
trapped in their hillside her home housing Sweet Santa Rosa’s eastern “Ever since then people flames until one building, Teri Crozat, who recently
cul-de-sac, the couple T’s — seemed to confirm hills, including the Foun- have been talking about on the southeast corner, purchased a home in Foun-
scooped up their dogs, Trix her worst fears. taingrove, Alta Vista, Mon- how that area was due for caught fire in the rear. By taingrove to be near her
and Puka, and went to help Then a friend of one tecito Heights, Hidden another pretty large fire,” about 10:45 a.m., flames and children and grandchildren
their parents evacuate from of her sons swung by the Valley and Brush Creek Sawyer said. “This is to me smoke were soon billowing but had yet to move into it.
their homes in the nearby street and sent a picture neighborhoods, have all a major wakeup call on a from the roof of the struc- Tara Crozat, who is mar-
Hidden Valley neighbor- of what little was left. In long concerned local offi- number of levels.” ture as tearful residents ried to Patrick Crozat, said
hood. They made their way one photo she could see the cials and firefighters. High up on a hill bounded looked on in horror, stand- all the siblings were travel-
down to her father’s law basketball hoop where her They’re located in what by Bicentennial Way, Men- ing in the parking lot of the ing in North Carolina when
firm, Abbey, Weitzenberg, sons, who both played the firefighters call a wild- docino Avenue and Lake adjacent Lucky supermar- they got a call at about
Warren & Emery, where game in high school, spent land-urban interface, Park Court, a group of local ket and Home Depot. 1 a.m. informing them
they huddled in a confer- so many hours enjoying where homes in wooded residents worked tirelessly Near the top of the hill, about the fire.
ence room around 4 a.m. the only home they’d ever rural and semi-rural areas to keep flames and smol- at the intersection of Foun- Tara Crozat, who spoke
and spent much of the day. known. Then it hit her. are effectively surrounded dering embers from climb- taingrove Parkway and by cellphone just before
Though she was still op- “It just dropped me,” by highly combustible fu- ing up the southeast slope Newgate Court, fire de- boarding a plane to Oak-
timistic that somehow her Weitzenberg said. “We els. and destroying a handful of stroyed the city’s $4 million land from Dallas, said the
home survived, every new just cried together on the Former Santa Rosa homes. fire station, Station 5. The family has since confirmed
bit of information — the phone. For the boys, being Mayor John Sawyer was Lake Park Court resident station, opened only two via TV news video that
loss of a new fire station up so far away, they just can’t a young boy the last time Jim Henderson said his fa- years ago, was designed to their homes have been de-
the hill, the destruction of understand how this could Fountaingrove burned this ther built one of the threat- improve the department’s stroyed. The family still
the shopping center near possibly happen.” badly. It was Sept. 19, 1964, ened homes in 1964, a few ability to respond to fire doesn’t know about the
and the Hanly fire, start- months before the Hanly and medical calls in the home of a fourth sibling,
KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT ed by a deer hunter who fire. area. But it was no match Shawn Crozat, who lives off

OKEE DOKEE
flicked his cigarette behind “It was a fire just like this, for Monday’s fire. Before Brush Creek.
Jim Stites watches his neighborhood burn Monday in Fountaingrove in Santa Rosa. a roadside tavern near Mt. burned all the way from 6 a.m., portions of the fire “We just kept hoping it
St. Helena, raced over San- Calistoga to Santa Rosa and station’s front wall were was a bad dream, that we

Neighborhood set ablaze ARTICHOKEE
ta Rosa’s eastern hills. it was the exact same time collapsing. were going to wake up and
“I remember there was a of year,” he said. The fire destroyed four it’s not real,” said Tara
great deal of anxiety as the Across the street, res- Fountaingrove homes be- Crozat. “We’re just kind of
glowing got closer and clos- idents of the Overlook longing to family of the in a state of shock.”
A wonderful, permanent addition to your er,” Sawyer said. at Fountaingrove apart- late Gene Crozat, founder
garden - 2 year plants - Have chokes The fire was ultimately ment complex watched of Santa Rosa-based G&C You can reach Staff Writer
stopped within yards of the their homes burn Monday Auto Body. That included Martin Espinoza at 707-
next spring - 3 for $19.99 thru 10-16-17 sons Patrick and Josh and
former county hospital on morning. Thick smoke 521-5213 or martin.espino-

Some residents watch as flames level block after block in one of hardest-hit areas King’s Nursery • Corner 13th & Stewart • 542-4782 Chanate Road, but not be-
fore scorching 52,700 acres.
clouded the apartments,
which seemed to defy the
daughter Jamie Crozat-Ke-
ck, as well as their mother
za@pressdemocrat.com. On
Twitter @renofish.
KingsFlowerNursery.com “Voted best nursery”
By MARTIN ESPINOZA spread. Flames leveled block after block
AND KEVIN MCCALLUM of homes in Fountaingrove and destroyed
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
or damaged several prominent business-
es, including the Fountaingrove Inn, its
Mariana Eakle, 11, woke to the smell Equus restaurant and several structures
of smoke seeping into her Fountaingrove at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country.

PUBLIC
house on Park Gardens Drive and alerted For Tracy Weitzenberg, a peaceful
her parents, Lori Barekman and Wade Sunday evening spiraled into a sleepless,
Eakle, about 1:45 a.m. nightmarish night that would end with
“We could see so much smoke and all her beloved Fountaingrove home in ash-
the reflections of the fire from our back
deck,” Barekman said.
After conferring with neighbors, Barek-
es.
Weitzenberg and her husband, Todd,
a physician at Kaiser Permanente, had
MEETINGS
man and her family decided to flee. All of lived there for 15 years and just sent their
her neighbors left, too. youngest son off to college at UC Davis.
Provide your input on the draft goals, objectives,
“No one that I know of stayed,” she They got two weeks as empty-nesters. strategies, and performance measures of the
said. “We were on the top and it was com- “Now I have a real empty nest,” Weit-
ing toward you. All of our neighbors are zenberg said, a moment of levity at the Vital Lands Initiative – a comprehensive plan that
out. … The main thing is we’re all safe. end of a day of both strength and desper- will guide our future land conservation work in
We’re all good.” ation.
Fire from the glow she saw from her She first caught the scent of smoke in Sonoma County.
deck would soon reach the Fountaingrove the air when she went out on her deck
area, bringing unimaginable destruction around 10:20 p.m. but didn’t think much
to the upscale hillside neighborhood. of it, believing it was from a distant Napa
While the toll of the firestorm has CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
not yet been tallied, the damage is wide- TURN TO BLAZE » PAGE A4 Homes are fully engulfed in flames near Altruria Drive in the Fountaingrove area of Santa Rosa.
Thursday, October 12 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm
“We just kept hoping it was a bad dream, that we were going to wake up and it’s not real.” Petaluma Veterans Memorial Building
TARA CROZAT, whose Fountaingrove home was destroyed in the blaze Saturday, October 14 | 10:00am – 12:00pm
Community Church of Sebastopol
SONOMA VALLEY MENDOCINO COUNTY Monday, October 16 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building
Fire kills at least 2 Tuesday, October 17 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Caught between wildfires, in Redwood Valley
Villa Chanticleer (Healdsburg)
Wednesday, October 18 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm
vineyards, homes destroyed Death toll expected
to climb as blaze
wood Valley. Sheriff’s officials
declined to release any details
but said more fatalities are ex-
Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building

Officials estimate about spreads toward Willits pected from the fast-moving
fire that struck the rural area
8,000 acres burned, By RANDI ROSSMANN
as people slept Sunday night.
with potential to spread “We are anticipating mul-
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
tiple fatalities,” said Sheriff’s
By MEG MCCONAHAY A deadly Redwood Valley Capt. Greg Van Patten.
AND RANDI ROSSMANN fire has caused at least two An early estimate said
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT fatalities with more deaths ex- 75 homes were destroyed, ac-
pected, and late Monday, the cording to fire officials.
Residents of the bucolic Sono- blaze was spreading toward The heaviest destruction
ma Valley found themselves Willits, forcing more evacua- was in the northern end of the
bottled up in their narrow tions, according to a Mendoci- valley. The fire leveled blocks
wine-growing region Monday no County sheriff’s official. of homes and businesses, said
between wildfires that raged By Monday night, the so- Van Patten, comparing it to Place an In Memoriam Life Tribute in the
across the parched southern called Redwood Complex the devastation in Middletown
hills of Sears Point and leveled fire had reached an esti- during the 2015 Valley fire. Press Democrat on the Day of the Dead holiday.
lush estates and prized vine- mated 19,000 acres, up from “That’s what we’re looking
yards at the northern end of the 4,500 acres in Redwood Valley at right now,” he said. To submit, please email the following to:
BETH SCHLANKER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
valley near the quaint town of Monday morning. The burned The fire at its start was spot-
Kenwood. San Francisco firefighters work to put out a fire Monday in Glen Ellen. areas included parts of north- ted about 1 a.m. by a sheriff’s LifeTributes@pressdemocrat.com
And in the middle, in the heart ern Potter Valley, northern sergeant on patrol in north-
of the Valley of the Moon, fire- bom, battalion chief for Sonoma available Monday night, by Redwood Valley and offshoot ern Potter Valley near Hawn • Your name, address and telephone number
fighters battled to save the land- Valley Fire who helped manage which time two smaller fires roads, and flames threatened Creek Road.
mark town of Glen Ellen, the the effort. “Glen Ellen is not out also had burned in the valley. areas including Pine Moun- The sergeant reported se- • A Word document of the In Memoriam
historic home of Jack London, of the woods yet, but it’s looking The Glen Ellen blaze, called tain Estates south of Willits vere wind gusts with trees and as you would like it to appear in print
making a stand at key points in pretty good.” the Nunn fire for its origin and a strip of area near Adven- power lines falling. The fire • Photo in jpg format.
the village core as the hillsides Sonoma Valley fire officials during the night near Nunns tist Health Howard Memorial took off up a hill, crested and
around them erupted. early Monday estimated a to- Canyon Road and Nelligan Hospital in Willits, said Men- swept down into northern Red-
“We picked good spots we tal of about 8,000 acres burned Road, spread down along Warm docino County sheriff’s Lt. wood Valley in one direction Learn more at sonomaopenspace.org/vital-lands
thought we could engage and with the potential to spread to Shannon Barney.
make a stand,” said Bob Norr- 20,000 acres. No update was TURN TO VALLEY » PAGE A12 Both deaths occurred in Red- TURN TO REDWOOD » PAGE A8

California Wildfires • 2 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017 NORTH COAST FIRESTORM A5 A6 NORTH COAST FIRESTORM THE PRESS DEMOCRAT • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017

KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Rincon Valley firefighters rescue a dog Monday
afternoon as a housing complex burns off Mark West
Springs Road in Larkfield.

At right, Steve Nazaroff washes his face while
pouring buckets of water on his property on Monday
in Santa Rosa.

BETH SCHLANKER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Fires leave trail
The Historic Round Barn burns in Santa Rosa early Monday morning. It was one of several local landmarks that were lost to fire.
KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
of devastation
Fire consumes landmarks
Round Barn, Hilton
hotel, Sweet T’s eatery
destroyed by Tubbs Fire
PRESS DEMOCRAT STAFF

The firestorm that raged from
Napa County into Sonoma Coun-
ty early Monday burned well-
known businesses, schools and
local landmarks, including the
luxury 124-room Fountaingrove
Inn and the nearby historic
Fountaingrove Round Barn.
The Hilton Sonoma Wine
Country, a 250-room hotel, also
was destroyed, as were the build-
ings at Paradise Ridge Winery.
Hidden Valley Satellite, a
campus serving about 80 prima-
ry-grade students, was leveled by
flames, as was the K-12 Christian
school Redwood Adventist Acad-
emy. The former, located on the
west side of Parker Hill Road
north of Chanate Road, is near
the Sleepy Hollow neighborhood
ravaged in the early morning
hours. The latter is on Mark
West Springs Road.
Sweet T’s, the comfort-food
eatery on Stagecoach Road off
Fountaingrove Parkway, was de-
stroyed.
Residents of two large senior
living complexes, Oakmont of
Villa Capri and Oakmont of Va-
renna, both on Fountaingrove ALVIN JORNADA / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Parkway, were evacuated. Oak- The remains of the Hilton hotel off of Fountain Grove Parkway on Monday after the Tubbs fire roared through north Santa Rosa.
mont of Villa Capri was de- CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
stroyed.
Chris Neace puts water on a structure fire Monday in an attempt to keep the fire from spreading to another home in the Fountaingrove area of Santa Rosa.
Willi’s Wine Bar and Crickle-
wood restaurant on Old Redwood
Highway both burned down.
The Cardinal Newman High
School campus, farther north
on Old Redwood Highway, lost
about half of its classrooms, as
well as the library, main office
and a number of portable class-
rooms.
The science building, wres-
tling room and gym were spared,
according to principal Graham
Rutherford.
The fire destroyed the east end
and classrooms at the Luther
Burbank Center for the Arts,
but damage to the main theater
building appeared minimal. Ju-
lie Richter, a spokeswoman for
Luther Burbank Center, report- CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT ROBERT DIGITALE / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
ed the center was closed Monday Fire crews battle flames early Monday at the Luther Burbank Center for The Kmart store on Cleveland Avenue in Santa Rosa was destroyed, with
and its staff safe. the Arts in Santa Rosa. only the masonry walls and roof supports remaining.
Flames leaped over High-
way  101 in the early morning
hours, leaving little standing of
the Kmart store on Cleveland
Avenue.
All that remained of the
114,000-square-foot structure
were masonry walls and hori-
zontal roof supports.
To the south on Cleveland, a
firefighter sprayed water into
the flames that had destroyed the
Puerto Vallarta restaurant. The BETH SCHLANKER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
adjacent businesses appeared Sandy DeGidio becomes emotional after her home was destroyed by fire Monday in Santa Rosa.
largely untouched.
In the Kohl’s shopping center
on Hopper, three eateries were
reduced to burning rubble. They
included McDonald’s, Apple-
bee’s and Arby’s.
The businesses were caught in ALVIN JORNADA / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
a path of destruction that contin- ALVIN JORNADA / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT RENE AND HOLLY BYCK
The American flag is framed by wreckage on the campus of Cardinal
ued west into residential neigh- The destroyed Hilton hotel off Fountaingrove Parkway is seen Monday The winery, tasting room, and events center at Paradise Ridge were Newman High School on Monday after the Tubbs fire burned through
borhoods along Hopper. after the Tubbs fire burned through north Santa Rosa. gutted early Monday in Santa Rosa. north Santa Rosa. The library, main office and several portable
classrooms were destroyed, Principal Graham Rutherford said.

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017 NORTH COAST FIRESTORM A7 A8 NORTH COAST FIRESTORM THE PRESS DEMOCRAT • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017

Neighbors and strangers took a stand on Baird Road
A CHRIS SMITH
bit past 8 a.m. Monday, decided was her last load.
as fear and agony soaked “We’re out!” she shouted.
like a stain into vast, While waiting for her children
burnt swaths of Napa and Sono- to emerge, she snapped a cell-
ma counties, the fight came to phone picture of their home.
Baird Road. “It’s probably the last time I’ll
It’s the country lane, parallel see it,” she said.
to and a couple of blocks west of weeds and grass.
Calistoga Road, that you take to Two terrified deer ran away. BUT SHE DIDN’T LEAVE.
the tucked-away dream fields of Baird Road residents and Darlene Russell noticed about
Rincon Valley Little League. good Samaritans ran, too. To- then a calm had returned to
A roiling cloud of black ward the danger. Baird Road.
smoke appeared over Baird They filled, hauled and Firefighters had halted the
Road as the fire advanced from dumped buckets of water onto fire on her side of the road with
the north and east. Flames en- emergent flames in the yards of their defense of the house just
gulfed an old home at Baird and neighbors and strangers. upwind. The wind had subsided
Rincon Avenue. Someone pulled a garden some, and two more CDF en-
The crew of a single Cal Fire hose across Baird Road and gines had arrived to subdue the
engine pulled into the driveway used a ladder to position a flames that imperiled
of the home next in the path of sprinkler on the roof of an three homes across the road.
CHRIS SMITH / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
the firestorm, fogging it with apparently untended house. A “That was a good save!”
spray. One by one, residents of civilian water truck rolled up Smoke and flames move down Baird Road in Santa Rosa on Monday. rejoiced Rick Robertson, a tree
the long block of Baird between and its driver aimed a drench- trimmer who’d arrived at the
Rincon Avenue and Badger ing blast at fire in that home’s since her husband, Bret, died in lene Russell, “All your pictures, Russells’ before 8 and went to
Road stepped onto the pave- landscaping. March when an SUV pulled into go get them. Now!” work hauling water and hoses
CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT ment and gazed at the smoke as the path of his Harley-Davidson The neighbors followed and pitching in for them and the
though they beheld a monster. THERE WAS NO ENGINE motorcycle maybe a mile away Russell into the house and others on the block.
A neighborhood in the Wikiup area of Santa Rosa is engulfed in flames early Monday morning.
Explosions sounded, presum- to defend Darlene Russell’s on Sonoma Highway. idled while she and her son and “Everybody just picked up a
ably from propane canisters house, located right next door to Spot fires grew as several peo- daughter gathered up personal bucket,” he said. “The neighbor-
and the like at homes burning the one with the CDF pumper in ple from the neighborhood and belongings. All went into two hood came together.”
up behind the curtain of smoke. the driveway. beyond stepped to the Russells’ pickups parked out front.
Wind-dealt cinders ignited small Russell has shared the house door and urged them to get out. “Anything else?” barked Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211
fires here and there, on a fence, with her two kids, one a teenag- “All your important papers, one of the neighbors. Russell and chris.smith@pressdemo-
in the rustic road’s plentiful dry er and the other a young adult, go get them,” a woman told Dar- stepped out with what she’d crat.com.

Area hospitals
shift patients
out of danger
Kaiser Permanente ple as a result of the fires,
including 12 who sustained
in SR remains closed; burns, said Vanessa deGi-
Memorial still open er, a hospital spokeswom-
an.
By MARTIN ESPINOZA Five were treated and re-
AND GUY KOVNER leased, three were hospital-
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT ized at Memorial and four
were transferred to burn
In the face of onrushing centers, she said.
flames, medical personnel Most of the other inju-
evacuated patients from ries were related to smoke
two Santa Rosa hospitals inhalation.
early Monday, while oth- Petaluma Valley Hospi-
er health care facilities tal and Queen of the Valley
moved residents out of Medical Center in Napa
harm’s way. also treated people with
Patients were evacuated fire-related injuries.
PHOTOS BY ALVIN JORNADA / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT from the Kaiser Perma- At Spring Lake Village
The ladder and skeleton of a swimming pool remain standing Monday in Redwood Valley. According to a Mendocino nente hospital on Bicen- on Montgomery Drive, the
County sheriff’s deputy, a man submerged himself in the swimming pool and was able to walk safely out of the fire zone. tennial Avenue as the adja- medically fragile popula-
cent Journey’s End Mobile tion was sheltered in place,
Home Park became a rag- accompanied by staffers.

KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
REDWOOD ing inferno.
“It was getting smoky
inside the hospital,” said
Patients able to move
with ease were evacuated
as a precautionary mea-
A truck burns in front of homes early Monday morning in the Coffey Park area of Santa Rosa. CONTINUED FROM A3 Renina Ndegwa, a Kaiser sure, either staying with
patient care technician. friends or family or at the
and also into Potter Valley. Officials said the evacu- Santa Rosa Veterans Me-
Once firefighters found ation of about 130 patients morial Building.
the extent of the blaze, was completed by 6 a.m. All skilled nursing facili-
sheriff’s officials launched Patients in need of medi- ties and assisted care facil-
the automatic phone no- cal support were relocated ities in the Fountaingrove
tice for residents to evac- by ambulance, while those area were evacuated and
uate, but the fire outraced who were not critically ill patients were sent to Fin-
the calls in some areas, were transported in pri- ley Center in Santa Rosa, a
Van Patten said. vate buses, said Joe Frago- county official said.
“We tried our best we la, a San Francisco-based With a 300-acre fire burn-
could to get to everybody,” Kaiser spokesman said in a ing through the Sonoma
he said. “Some, by the time statement. Valley, authorities evacu-
they got it, it was literally The majority of patients ated the Sonoma Develop-
at their door. We heard sto- was taken to Kaiser Perma- mental Center, a facility
ries of people getting out nente in San Rafael, while for the mentally ill and
just in time.” others were sent to Kaiser developmentally disabled
At least two people suf- facilities in San Francis- on a wooded Arnold Drive
fered serious injuries, co and Oakland and local campus, Sonoma County
according to Cal Fire. community hospitals, he Supervisor Susan Gorin
Further details weren’t re- Burned vehicles and fire-damaged car parts are seen at a residence off West Road on said. said.
leased. Monday in Redwood Valley. According to reports, some residents who were unable to Kaiser’s Santa Rosa hos- Apart from a few medi-
Mendocino County evacuate in time along West and Tomki roads succumbed to the fast-moving fire. pital was not damaged in cally fragile patients who
Sheriff Tom Allman de- the blaze that devastated remained on site, most of
clared a state of emergen- business and residential the 240 residents were shel-
cy in the county. areas in northern Santa tered at the Sonoma Veter-
Evacuations included Rosa, but the hospital was ans Memorial Building on
Redwood Valley spread- closed and scheduled sur- First Street West, Gorin
ing up offshoot roads in- geries and appointments said.
BETH SCHLANKER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT cluding Tomki Road at were canceled. Residents were evacu-
Chris Cortese looks to salvage something from his parents’ home Monday afternoon after it the north end. Deputies Routine scheduled pro- ated from four Brookdale
was destroyed by fire in Santa Rosa. later Monday also issued cedures and appointments Senior Living facilities, in-
an evacuation warning for for Tuesday at Kaiser’s cluding Brookdale Paulin
the hospital neighborhood Santa Rosa Medical Center, Creek, Brookdale Chanate
as well as Lake Van Arts- Rohnert Park and Mercury and Brookdale Fountain-
dale Dam area north of Way medical offices were grove in Santa Rosa, and
Potter Valley, Barney said. canceled, Fragola said. Brookdale Rohnert Park.
Sheriff’s officials Mon- Walk-up urgent care will Even as the hospital was
day night were trying to be available at Kaiser’s evacuated, a few residents
get a sense of how many Rohnert Park facility on of the nearby mobile home
people had evacuated. State Farm Drive, he said. park stood on the third
Cal Fire officials arrived Kaiser pharmacies in floor of Kaiser’s parking
Monday night to help co- Santa Rosa and Napa are garage and watched as
ordinate the firefight, and closed, and members who their homes went up in
law enforcement mutu- need a prescription filled flames.
al aid was arriving from may go to the pharmacies “I just moved in and I
Humboldt County and lo- in Petaluma, Novato and lost everything,” said Alex
cal police departments. San Rafael. Cranston, whose friend’s
Evacuations remained The red-hued sun sets above a property Monday off West Road in Redwood Valley, where Families seeking infor- mobile home burned down.
in place in Redwood Valley a deceased victim of the Redwood Complex fire was found. mation on patients trans- He had moved in there two
and areas of Potter Valley ferred from Santa Rosa weeks earlier.
and Golden Rule. Shelters al Forest, south of Black ed in Redwood Valley on were working the fire, to- may call 855-599-0033. From the safety of the
were open at Ukiah and Bart. The fire at one point Monday, suspected of loot- taling 410 people with 26 Sutter Hospital on Mark parking garage, Cranston
Willits high schools, and crossed Highway 101, ing a home, Van Patten engines. West Springs Road also watched as the fire con-
Ukiah fairgrounds for peo- heading up the Willits said. evacuated patients Mon- sumed the mobile home
KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT ple and animals, and the grade. Road closures were Additional deputies You can reach Staff day, but a hospital official park.
Darin Garcia looks at the remains of his home he’s lived in for nearly 40 years as he Ukiah animal shelter is at Highway 101 and Ridge- were assigned to patrol Writer Randi Rossmann Monday night could not “I just watched it jump
KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT embraces Ashley Alva on Monday in the Coffey Park area of Santa Rosa. taking animals. wood Grade, and Redwood burned areas because of at 707-521-5412 or randi. provide further details from one trailer to the next
The fire started north Valley to Black Bart in concerns of looting. rossmann@pressdemo- about the evacuation. to the next,” he said.
Kaiser Hospital patients and staff are evacuated because of the Tubbs fire early
of Highway 20, west of Willits. Several local fire agen- crat.com. On Twitter@ Santa Rosa Memorial
Monday morning in Santa Rosa.
the Mendocino Nation- One person was arrest- cies Monday afternoon rossmannreport. Hospital, the region’s trau- Staff Writer Robert Dig-
ma center, remained open itale contributed to this
and sustained no structur- report. You can reach Staff
“Some, by the time they got it, it was literally at their door.” al damage Monday. Writer Guy Kovner at 707-
GREG VAN PATTEN, Sheriff’s captain, on evacuation notices The Emergency Depart- 521-5457 or guy.kovner@
ment treated about 90 peo- pressdemocrat.com.

California Wildfires • 3 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017 NORTH COAST FIRESTORM A9 A10 NORTH COAST FIRESTORM THE PRESS DEMOCRAT • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017

Neighbors warned, SR family flees Porter Creek Rd.
Safari
West

because the family puppy Henry

Calistoga Rd.
Water Agency worker heard the news he’d feared: His
woke him needing to pee about house was destroyed except for
saves treasured items 10:30 p.m. Sunday. After letting the fireplace. A neighbor who’d
but loses home to wildfire the dog out, Sherwood smelled gotten close enough to the area TUBBS FIRE RIPS THROUGH SANTA ROSA
smoke and decided to drive up told Sherwood “he could see The 27,000-acre Tubbs fire, which sparked overnight in Napa County
Mark West Springs Road to in- right through (entire streets). and was spread by high winds to Santa Rosa, scorched city landmarks,
By RANDI ROSSMANN
vestigate. It was about 11 p.m. There was not a structure stand- businesses and schools campuses while putting two hospitals and
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT other structures at risk.
and there was no sign of fire. A ing through the whole communi-
Screaming “Fire!” while smoky “blood moon” suggested ty.”
Area impacted by Tubbs fire
pounding on doors and ringing otherwise, but nothing so close But the family had followed
doorbells, Larkfield resident and moving so fast. advice from friends to place Key locations
Brad Sherwood and neighbors About an hour later, an auto- valuables, wedding memories Damaged or destroyed by Tubbs Fire
ran from house to house early mated phone call came telling and baby pictures all together in
Monday, trying to roust resi- neighbors to evacuate. Fletcher a box, ready to go in an instant. Rd
.
dents in the northern Santa Rosa Skerrett, a neighbor and a Sono- Brandy Sherwood even got her Paradise n gs
Sutter pri
subdivision along Chelsea Drive. ma County sheriff’s deputy, was wedding dress out. S Ridge
101 Hospital est Riebli Rd.
Flames were sweeping down in his patrol car with the lights “There are so many lessons W Cardinal Winery
KENT PORTER / PRESS DEMOCRAT
ark Newman
into the Larkfield neighborhood on, alerting the neighborhood. Guests of the Hilton Hotel in Fountaingrove evacuate from the Tubbs fire to be learned from this, in terms River Rd.
M Oakmont of
Old High School
near Cardinal Newman High Sherwood, who was outside, of preparation, whether earth- Villa Capri

Fulton Rd.
in Santa Rosa on Monday. R ed
School from the nearby Mayaca- called his wife at the house: quake or fire,” Sherwood said. w
oo
mas hillsides. “It’s the real thing, get out!” Before Sherwood could leave of other cars turned around get- “Have your special memories al-

w y.
d
Luther Willi’s H Hilton
Safe with his family later Mon- Then he and others ran down in a second car, an 85-year-old ting away from the lower Napa ready in a place ready to go.” w

Pk
y

Foun
Burbank Wine Bar Hotel
day in Sacramento, Sherwood the street door-by-door alerting neighbor told him the power out- fire.” Monday night, Sherwood was

e
v
Center ro
ng

taing
recounted a harrowing escape as neighbors. age kept her garage door from Sherwood left work to get to his anxious to return to see what ai
for the Arts nt
the flames approached his fam- Sherwood let his chickens opening and she couldn’t reach family, swinging by the Fountain he could salvage, connect with

Fou

rove
Waltzer Rd.
ily home of four years as much loose and hoped for the best for the emergency release to get her Grove Parkway and Mendocino neighbors and make plans for lvd
.
oB

Pk
of his residential community off the family turtles while his wife, car out. Avenue intersection, seeing the rebuilding. Fountaingrove Yerba Buena Rd.

Calistoga Rd.
Kmart cin

wy.
Old Redwood Highway burned. Brandy, readied their two young “I pulled the emergency rope historic Round Barn burning. “This was our dream home. Round Barn Chanate Rd. do

Coffey
Trader Joe’s Men
“It was more of the glow that children. and made sure she got in her car Because of the heavy evacuation We loved the neighborhood,

Rd.
e.
Piner Rd. N

Av
I remember, deep dark orange He pulled the family van onto and saw her drive off,” he said. traffic on Highway 101 and other loved the community, loved the

eek
Ln.
Kaiser

to
glow. The air got so thick you the lawn just outside the front With his family on its way, obvious routes, they headed west people,” Sherwood said. “I want

h Cr
Marsh Rd.

teci
r.
1 mile

Marlow Rd.
Permanente Dr.

Valle n
yD
could barely breathe. Then the door. His wife threw boxes of Sherwood headed to the county’s to Bodega and drove south on that community back. I’m not go-

de
Steele Ln.

Mon

Brus
ery

Mendocino Ave.

Hid
power went out,” said Sherwood, treasured photos and family his- emergency services command Highway 1 before cutting over to ing to let this fire take that away om
Sonoma County Water Agency’s tory into the van — which the center to work. get to the Sacramento Valley. from me or my kids or my neigh- on
tg SONOMA

Su
spokesman. “I’m (was) so scared. family had packed previously — But his wife, like many others, “I guess I have Henry the pup- bors’ kids.” Guerneville Rd. M SANTA COUNTY

Du

mm
12
and she and Grant, 7, and June, got stuck in traffic and found her- py to thank for waking me up,”

tto
The fire moved so fast and I know ROSA

erfie
n
there are so many people in our 5, the puppy, two cats, four para- self in another dire situation. he said. “Otherwise I wouldn’t You can reach Staff Writer

Av

Yu
12

ld
College Ave.

e.
neighborhood.” keets and hastily packed suitcas- “She was stuck on (Highway) have known there was a fire until Randi Rossmann at 707-521-5412

lupa

Rd.
W. College Ave. Ave.
ma

Farmer’s Ln.
He felt lucky, having had pos- es headed out, bound for family 37 with flames all around her,” the call came.” or randi.rossmann@pressdemo- Sono

Ave
sibly a few minutes head start in Sacramento. Sherwood said. “She and a bunch Later Monday, Sherwood crat.com. St.

.
rd
Thi

Fulton Rd.
Oak
Le

CITY LIMITS
Oa af
km Dr.
Bennet Valley
on
12 tD

Dutton Ave.
“A house is a house. What was important to me was getting people and animals out alive.” n Av
e.
r.

Stony Point Rd.
Sebastopol Rd. Asto
SUNI LEVI, Bennett Ridge resident who worked to save horses at Terra de Belos Cavalos, a charitable equine therapy organization.

S. Wright Rd.
Northpoint

Santa Rosa Ave.
Pkwy. Yolanda Ave.
Hearn Ave.

WINE COUNTRY WILDFIRES

Pe
Tubbs fire

talu
27,000 acres burned A string of blazes broke out across Napa County late

ma
Ludwig Ave.
Bellevue Ave. Sunday and early Monday. Fueled by heavy winds,

Hill
they grew rapidly, destroying homes and forcing

Rd.
101 evacuations across the region.
29

La
FIRESTORM

ke
Highway 101 in Santa 128 NAPA

Berr
Rosa was completely shut
COUNTY

ye
down in both directions,

ss
CALISTOGA
CONTINUED FROM A1

a
from Steele Lane to Mark
From there it raced on, that developed over the West Springs Road. Thick
scorching landmark busi- weekend helped fuel the smoke kept badly need- Auberge
nesses and school cam- firestorm. Cal Fire and the ed Cal Fire tankers and ST. HELENA du Soleil
puses and threatening two National Weather Service helicopters grounded for 128
hospitals, where hundreds issued a red flag warning much of the day. Commer- SANTA ROSA
of patients were evacuat- that extended through cial flights at Charles. M. RUTHERFORD
ed. Throwing sparks ahead today, though gusts had Schulz-Sonoma County SONOMA Atlas fire
25,000 acres burned
of its main front, the fire largely died down by Mon- Airport were canceled. COUNTY OAKVILLE

SIL
then jumped Highway 101 day evening. With hours to go before

VE
12 Domain
into a heavily populated By that time, the night- sunrise, the fire had topped

RA
Chandon

DO
corner of northwest Santa mare that many wildfire a ridge west of Santa Rosa, KENWOOD YOUNTVILLE

TR
Rosa. experts had long feared in lighting the hillside with 29 121

AIL
In Coffey Park, the de- Santa Rosa had played out. flames before swooping
struction was warlike. It was a haunting sequel to down into town.
Block after block, hun- the disastrous Hanly fire Ted Regan, who lives Nunns fire Redwood Inn
dreds of homes burst into of 1964, which originated near Calistoga Road, said 5,000 acres burned
Copia
flames. in the same rugged terrain he saw the glow from the SONOMA
“The volume of struc- along the Napa-Sonoma foothills behind his house NAPA
border and ripped through about 2 a.m. Partrick fire FAIRFIELD
tures and neighborhoods 12 121
121 19,000 acres burned
that have been completely what was then mostly ru- “It got brighter and PETALUMA
destroyed is incredible,” ral land. It was halted be- brighter and then we saw 80
said Assistant Santa Rosa fore it reached the city’s flames. That’s when we 12
Fire Marshal Paul Lowen- core. said, ‘It’s time to go,’” Re- 0 Miles 5

thal, who lost his own Not so this time. gan said.
Larkfield home Monday. Flames outpaced over- Rachel McKenzie, who Source: Cal Fire THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
“There are areas where, matched fire crews, burn- fled her home south of
as far as the eye can see, ing through wooded, rural Hopper Avenue in north- Santa Rosa began in dark- uation orders included Arts was partially dam-
is complete devastation estates and onto paved west Santa Rosa with her ness as windblown smoke Oakmont — the Sonoma aged and Paradise Ridge
KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT winery suffered extensive
with entire neighborhoods city blocks. Desperate resi- son, her husband and a blanketed the Highway 101 Valley retirement commu-
Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman directs an ambulance on Mark West Springs Road near Safari West on Sunday night. burned to the ground.” dents asked all day for up- crate filled with pet rep- corridor. In the hills, and nity — Windsor’s southern damage.
By nightfall Monday, the dates on active fire fronts tiles, described the fren- later in the flatlands, res- outskirts and the eastern Sonoma County Super-
Tubbs fire, which began that seemed to have them zied evacuation hours lat- idents were alerted to the border of Rohnert Park. visor Shirlee Zane, who

Voices from amid the flames
By CHRISTI WARREN, RANDI lived near the top of the drive They grabbed their four dogs felt like I needed to go.” an alert on my phone or any-
about 10 p.m. near Calisto-
ga in eastern Napa County,
was still uncontrolled on
many fronts. Its single-day
toll made it the worst nat-
ural disaster on record
surrounded. Fire officials
pleaded for reinforcements.
“We’ve been wonder-
ing, ‘Where in the heck
are they?’” Windsor Fire
Chief Jack Piccinini said
er as she awaited news of
her home at an emergency
evacuation center.
“It was totally chaotic,”
McKenzie said. “I saw a
fire start in my neighbor’s
fire’s approach by evac-
uation orders, made by
reverse emergency calls
and loudspeaker transmis-
sions, and officers knock-
ing on doors.
By that time, a large
Mendocino Avenue mo-
bile home park was left in
smoldering ruins. About
half of Cardinal Newman
High School was destroyed
surveyed the

hellish war zone.”
damage
Monday afternoon from a
helicopter described the
burned landscape as “a

“It looked like somebody
off Highway 101 since 2003, had and 2-year-old daughter Rylee, thing.”
She grabbed her purse, medi- in Sonoma County, and about 6  a.m. “I’ve asked, house, and it was fully “These blazes have tak- along with landmarks in- bombed these neighbor-
ROSSMANN, ELOÍSA RUANO
little hope that her home had packed up clothes, diapers, wa- cations and cellphone, and with Rajendra, 25, found out among the most destruc- ‘Are units coming?’ and engulfed when we drove en place at an individu- cluding the Fountaingrove hoods,” she said.
GONZÁLEZ AND NICK RAHAIM
survived. ter and camping gear, and made through one of his coworkers at
her dog Molly headed to the po- tive wildfires in California was told no, they’re going away.” al’s most vulnerable time, Inn, the Hilton Sonoma Pacific Gas and Electric
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
“We have the dogs. We have plans to stay at a family mem- lice station on Sonoma AvenueKeysight Technologies. history. Authorities said to the Atlas fire (in Napa Work to evacuate pa- when they are home and in Wine Country and the Co. reported 50,000 Sono-

F
lames forced thousands of ourselves, our purses and our ber’s home in Novato. where a young officer told her “He said that they were they expected the death County). That’s painful tients from Kaiser Perma- bed,” State Sen. Mike Mc- historic Fountaingrove ma County customers
people from their homes wallets and of course we have “I’m really, really nervous,” evacuating this area, there was
she needed to get out of town. toll to grow, and financial news to us. We’re still nente and Sutter Santa Guire, D-Healdsburg, said. Round Barn. The Luther were without power Mon-
across Sonoma and Napa insurance,” she said. “It’s not she said. “I didn’t think it would a wildfire, so I left at 3 o’clock
“He said you need to get on losses from the fire — from spread so thin.” Rosa hospitals in north By midday, the evac- Burbank Center for the day. Cellphone coverage
counties Monday, with harrow- the end of the world.” ever get this crazy.” Highway 101 and drive south and called these guys and asked homes and luxury hotels, was intermittent through-
ing stories of escape, loss and them to evacuate, too,” he said.
and keep going,” she said. “So to school campuses and out Monday as flames
uncertainty. Here are some Daughter wakes parents ‘Big balls of ash’ that’s what I did.” By 3:30 a.m., their complex wineries — are likely to knocked out communica-
accounts from those who shared Lori Barekman, who lives Joy Reid first woke up to the was under mandatory evacua- mount into the billions of tion equipment in the re-
their experiences. on Park Gardens Drive in the smell of smoke at 1:30 a.m. in Home a lonely survivor tion orders. dollars. gion.
Like so many people Monday Fountaingrove neighborhood, Journey’s End Mobile Park. By Terry Andrew, 63, has lived Together, Rajendra headed The blaze, which burned “Due to wildfires, some
throughout the region, Sky- said her 11-year-old daughter, 2:30 a.m., the smoke was so bad at Journey’s End Mobile Home to the Finley Center first, as 27,000 acres by Monday wireless customers in
farm Drive resident Germain Mariana, woke her and her hus- that she decided to get up and Park for five years. When neigh- did Gupta and her roommate night, was the most cat- Sonoma, Napa, Mendoci-
Hauprich wanted to know if her band Wade Eakle about see what was going on. bors banged on his door at Soniya Kamath, 27. But when astrophic of more than no and Humboldt counties
house survived. 1:45 a.m. alerting them to the An hour later, the 57-year-old 2 a.m., chunks of embers from they arrived, they realized they 14 wildfires across eight and their surrounding ar-
She, her husband and 86-year- smell of smoke. could see the flames licking the the affluent Fountaingrove hadn’t grabbed anything, and counties in Northern eas may be experiencing
old mother, and their two “We could see so much smoke roadway from where she lives. neighborhood were blowing onto doubled back to gather import- California. The heaviest issues with their wireless
Labrador dogs, escaped the and all the reflections of the fire That’s when people started the trailer park, he said. ant documents. activity centered in Sono- services,” said Leland
fast-approaching fire from their from our back deck,” Barek- pounding on doors, yelling to He packed his girlfriend and “But that’s all we got, no ma, Napa, Mendocino and Kim, media relations di-
east Santa Rosa neighborhood man said. After conferring with get out. her 93-year-old mother into his clothes or anything,” Rajendra Lake counties, where up rector for AT&T. “We are
about 1:30 a.m. after getting neighbors, she and her family She grabbed her cellphones, car and left. said. to 75,000 acres had burned. working to restore service
an automated call to evacuate decided to evacuate before a purse and backpack, got in the Hours later, he returned to A total of 11 people were as quickly as possible.”
immediately. formal order was issued. car and headed south. find his trailer undamaged. But ‘At least we’re alive’ confirmed dead in the lo- Gov. Jerry Brown de-
“I started to go to the car, open Everyone she knows in her “There were flames and there across Sahara Street, blocks of Pedro Alquezada was at home cal fires, including two in clared a state of emer-
doors and throw things in,” neighborhood evacuated. were big balls of ash coming other homes had been leveled, with his wife at their Cedar Mendocino County and gency in Napa, Sonoma,
Hauprich said. “I could see the “We were on the top and it was over into our park, landing in some still smoldering hours Avenue home in Sonoma late an elderly couple in Napa Mendocino and Yuba
red glow coming from the hill coming toward you,” she said. the driveway, the entranceway,” after the blaze roared through. Sunday when he got the call County. counties as well as oth-
across the street.” she said. “I’m just nervous be- from his brother-in-law, check- In Sonoma Valley, sever- ers throughout the state.
The three adults and two Things ‘get crazy’ cause I have no idea.” Return trip for documents ing in on the family to be sure al fires burned 5,000 acres Sonoma County’s two con-
dogs headed down the hill, Katy Masingale’s GMC Yu- If Avani Gupta hadn’t already they were packed and ready to around Glen Ellen and gressmen, Jared Huffman,
rendezvousing with neighbors at kon was one of dozens of cars Hiding cats left behind been awake when her friend, go. They weren’t. Not even close. Kenwood, where homes on D-San Rafael, and Mike
Safeway on Mendocino Avenue waiting in line for fuel Monday When Nancy Shumacher evac- Shaishav Rajendra, called to “He said, ‘Hey guys, you have both sides of Highway 12 Thompson, D-St. Helena,
until the power there went out. morning at the Valero gas sta- uated her home at Brookwood tell her to evacuate, she doesn’t to be ready because maybe Sono- were destroyed. traveled to the area Mon-
She and her family moved to a tion on Redwood Highway North Mobile Home Park in Rincon know how long it would have ma will burn,’” Alquezada, 46, “It has been a horrific day, and Thompson joined
Rohnert Park Safeway parking in Petaluma. The 25-year-old and Valley around 2 a.m., she had to taken to find out about the said. “I was like OK, so what do and terrifying night for Zane in the aerial survey.
lot, seeking distance, light, sup- her husband Justin, had been leave her five cats behind. fires raging near her Codding- I take?” a great many people,” He said he already had
plies and a restroom. watching the news all night from “I’m scared to death that town-area apartment complex. He and his wife, Maria Zamu- acting Santa Rosa Police forwarded photos to the
Unable to book a hotel room, their Penngrove home, and final- everything is gone,” said the “I was already up, otherwise dio, 52, gathered what they could: Chief Craig Schwartz said Federal Emergency Man-
they went to family in Tracy. ly decided to evacuate around 69-year-old. “I couldn’t get them my phone was on silent,” said Monday during a news ALVIN JORNADA / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Hauprich, whose family has 9 a.m. out, they were all hiding and I the 25-year-old. “And I never got TURN TO VOICES » PAGE A12 conference. Low humidity The northeast entrance of the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts was left charred after the Tubbs fire tore through
and strong, inland winds northern Santa Rosa on Monday. It was among several structures destroyed in the wind-whipped wildfire. TURN TO FIRESTORM » PAGE A11

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT • TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017 NORTH COAST FIRESTORM A11

“It hasn’t really hit me that I don’t have anything I used to have.”
GORDON EASTER, resident of Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood

PHOTOS BY KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Residents check on their home Monday in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa.

COFFEY PARK
CONTINUED FROM A1
east. This time, flames leapt from
those hills, across the six high-
way lanes and frontage streets
and rained down on their homes.
The fire incinerated houses
stretching from a few blocks
north of Piner Road almost to
Dennis Lane on the northern
edge of the city. In the middle
of the subdivision, not a home
appears to be left standing for
three-quarters of a mile.
“It hasn’t really hit me that
I don’t have anything I used to
have,” said Easter, who has lived
on Hopper Avenue for 20 years.
He paused to note the wreck-
age of a neighbor’s car in a near-
by driveway. It worried him that
the neighbor, a woman who lived
alone, might have failed to es-
cape the flames.
Seven deaths have been re-
ported in northern Santa Rosa
neighborhoods from the blaze,
dubbed the Tubbs fire, and both
Easter’s and the Hernandez’s
homes lie in ruins, part of a terri- Embers zip through the air as a Cazadero firefighter attempts to douse spreading flames Monday in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood.
ble wasteland in the Coffey Park
neighborhood. ic until she saw Joyce Murdick
Around the city park that gave approach. The two neighbors
the neighborhood its name, not hugged and wept.
a home remains. Coffey Park’s “It’s unbelievable,” Sharp said
baby swings and blue slide of the destruction. “Just like
looked untouched, but across the that.”
street burned-out cars littered The burned area’s southeast
driveways. edge lay a few blocks north of
The residents expressed dis- Schaefer Elementary School
belief that a wildfire could reach near Sweetgum Street and
their neighborhood from the Sweetgum Court. Roommates
hills where it earlier raged. Travis Fuesz and Juan Valencia
“It’s not supposed to happen returned there Monday after-
this way,” said resident Gary noon, passing by scores of de-
Padgett. “But it did.” stroyed houses.
Padgett’s rented home near “Our stomachs just sank,”
Crimson and Kerry lanes was Fuesz said of the neighbors’ loss-
saved by Gold Ridge firefight- es. He recalled thinking, “There’s
ers along the northwest edge of no way our home is still there.”
the neighborhood. Few homes In fact, the home and those
remained to his east or west, next to it survived on the south
though many were spared to the side of Sweetgum Court. How-
north. ever, across the street the fire
“I’m thankful,” he said. appeared to have consumed
“That’s all I can say.” several blocks of homes all the
Public safety officials urged way north to Hopper Avenue.
people to stay out of the evac- On the burned area’s southern
uation areas, and late Monday edge, San Francisco and Santa
city police announced a man- Sunrise turns the smoke an eerie color at Coffey Park in Santa Rosa on Monday. Rosa firefighters were able to
datory curfew in those zones flames. pulled up and a fire crew quickly all the homes on the east side re- stop the flames near Sansone
from 6:45 p.m. to sunrise. But the In the first single-family neigh- doused the flames. A firefighter mained standing, while nearly Drive and Sansone Court, said
magnitude of the fire’s damage borhood to the west, which in- advised Muga that a working all the homes on the west side resident Dan Buschena. Their ef-
brought out both residents and cludes Skyview and Crestview garden hose was nearby should had been destroyed. Natural gas forts saved his house two blocks
sightseers Monday to Coffey drives, only a dozen of the more she need it. As the crew got back lines spewed flames. north of Piner.
Park. than 200 single-family houses re- in their truck, Muga prayed John Murdick stood atop his Buschena returned to his resi-
Most, like Hernandez, could mained intact. Among them was aloud, “God, watch over them, home on the east side of Frida dence about 8 a.m. to see the San
do little but gawk over what was the home of Grace Muga, who please.” and doused the roof with a gar- Francisco firefighters battling
gone. lives on Skyview with her par- Across the street, chimney af- den hose. flames consuming his neighbor’s
“We basically lost everything,” ents and two siblings. ter chimney stood alone amid the Asked how long he’d lived home to the west.
he said, standing near Hopper Muga returned with her friend rubble. there, he yelled, “Twenty-seven When the firefighters learned
and Sumatra Drive. He choked Farai Jumbe about 8 a.m. Mon- “These are my neighbors,” years. And I’m not giving up.” Buschena owned the home next
up as he recalled that in the hur- day to find the home largely Muga said. He evacuated in the early door, they sought to ease his
ried evacuation he had left be- untouched. When told how few At the southwest edge of the morning but returned with his mind. He recalled they told him,
hind his wedding ring. of the surrounding homes sur- morning’s destruction, the fire wife, Joyce, before 9 a.m. “We got it.”
The fire jumped Highway vived, the two women dropped to jumped the SMART train tracks A neighbor, Peggy Sharp, soon
101 during the night, apparent- their knees in disbelief. near San Miguel Avenue, but it drove up with partner Steve You can reach Staff Writer Rob-
ly near the Kohl’s department Next door, a neighbor’s fence was stopped a few blocks to the Balch to confirm that Sharps’ ert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or
store on Hopper Avenue. Three still burned, threatening Muga’s west. home had been destroyed across robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.
nearby restaurants went up in house. A Santa Rosa firetruck At Frida Street off San Miguel, the street. Sharp remained sto- com. On Twitter @rdigit.

FIRESTORM ed areas along Mark West Creek
and Mark West Springs Road.
Explosions from bursting pro-
ter. “It was very spooky.”
Evacuation centers county-
wide filled through the day with
was drawn from “very conserva-
tive estimates.”
Several incidents of looting
stopping and potentially arrest-
ing anyone unauthorized found
inside.
CONTINUED FROM A10 pane tanks punctuated the night anxious, exhausted people un- had been reported by Monday af- Santa Rosa Mayor Chris
as flames set the sky aglow. Sun- certain of what awaited them at ternoon, in both residential and Coursey was clearly emotional
agement Agency and the White up Monday was otherworldly, home. Those awakened for hasty commercial areas. Acting Santa during brief remarks at Mon-
House. with a blood-red sun obscured departures the previous night Rosa Police Chief Schwartz or- day’s news briefing.
The cause of the Tubbs fire by smoke, ash blanketing the included assisted living and se- dered a curfew prohibiting any- “I’m lucky,” he said. “My
remains undetermined, though ground and residents rushing to nior home residents. one from being inside a mandato- house is fine. My family is fine.
any small spark could have been fill up gas tanks and seek emer- Roads, schools and businesses ry evacuation zone between the My city is not. And it’s gonna
fanned into a conflagration by gency shelter. around the area were closed as hours of 6:45 p.m. and 7:15 a.m. take a long time for us to recover
the gusts Sunday night, Cal Fire “It was like an apocalypse,” mandatory evacuation orders Sonoma County Sheriff Rob what’s happened today.”
officials said. said Laura Mills, who lives on expanded. Giordano said scores of law en- But the city, he said, is strong.
It started near Highway 128 and Wedgewood Way in Fountain- Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott forcement personnel, including “We are a resilient city. We’re
Bennett Lane north of Calistoga grove, and was forced to evacu- said the preliminary loss assess- at least 120 on loan from neigh- an indivisible city, and we’re
and spread southwest into Sono- ate in bumper-to-bumper traffic ment of more than 1,500 residen- boring counties, would patrol gonna need to hang together as
ma County through heavily wood- to the Finley Community Cen- tial and commercial structures the fire areas in the days ahead, we go through this.”

California Wildfires • 4 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017 • SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA • PRESSDEMOCRAT.COM

FOUNTAINGROVE » SONOMA VALLEY » REDWOOD VALLEY »
Neighborhoods razed Area ‘like a ghost town’ At least 2 dead as blaze
in north Santa Rosa as fires flank Highway 12 spreads toward Willits

FIRESTORM
LAYS WASTE
Inferno kills 7, leaves ‘complete devastation’
By MARY CALLAHAN, PAUL PAYNE, tals, where hundreds of patients were TRACKING
RANDI ROSSMANN, JULIE JOHNSON AND evacuated. Throwing sparks ahead of FIRES’ TOLL
J.D. MORRIS The single-day
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
its main front, the fire then jumped toll of the Tubbs
Highway 101 into a heavily populated fire made it the
A raging firestorm born in the dark corner of northwest Santa Rosa. worst disaster on
record in Sonoma
of night by dry, violent winds roared In Coffey Park, the destruction was County. Five
down from the rural hills bordering warlike. Block after block, hundreds of other fires were
uncontrolled as
Napa and Sonoma counties early Mon- homes burst into flames. of Monday.
day and cut a devastating swath into “The volume of structures and
Santa Rosa from its eastern outskirts, neighborhoods that have been com- 5,000
Acreage of
killing at least seven city residents and pletely destroyed is incredible,” said Nunns fire in
destroying more than 1,500 structures. Assistant Santa Rosa Fire Marshal Sonoma County
Tens of thousands of people were Paul Lowenthal, who lost his own 19,000
forced to flee their homes hours be- Larkfield home Monday. “There are Acreage of
fore sunrise, when the ruin wrought areas where, as far as the eye can see, Redwood
by flames in several terrifying hours is complete devastation with entire Complex fires
in Mendocino
became apparent over a rural and ur- neighborhoods burned to the ground.” County
ban landscape spanning more than 50 By nightfall Monday, the Tubbs fire,
square miles. In Sonoma County alone, which began about 10 p.m. near Calis-
27,000
Acreage of
officials said 100 people were reported toga in eastern Napa County, was still Tubbs fire in
missing. uncontrolled on many fronts. Its sin- Sonoma and
Napa Counties
For thousands of firefighters and gle-day toll made it the worst natural
residents trying to protect homes, the disaster on record in Sonoma County, 25,000
fire driven by gusts up to 68 mph was and among the most destructive wild- Acreage of
Atlas fire in
an amorphous, unstoppable force, ram- fires in California history. Authori- Napa County
paging through Mark West Springs, ties said they expected the death toll
Larkfield and Wikiup, and Fountain- to grow, and financial losses from the 3,000
Acreage of
grove, where it claimed hundreds of fire — from homes and luxury hotels, Patrick fire in
upscale Santa Rosa houses tucked into to school campuses and wineries — are Napa County
forested hillsides. likely to mount into the billions of dol-
From there it raced on, scorch- lars.
ing landmark businesses and school
campuses and threatening two hospi- TURN TO FIRESTORM » PAGE 6

California Wildfires • 5 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

A Cazadero firefighter
struggles to protect a
home from catching
fire Monday morning
in the Coffey Park
neighborhood of
Santa Rosa. Tens of
thousands of resi-
dents were forced to
flee their homes hours
before sunrise early
Monday as flames
raced through neigh-
borhoods. By nightfall,
the Tubbs fire, which
began in Napa County,
was still uncontrolled
on many fronts.

KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

burning through wooded, rural estates and
FIRESTORM onto paved city blocks. Desperate residents
CONTINUED FROM 5 asked all day for updates on active fire fronts
that seemed to have them surrounded. Fire of-
The blaze, which burned 27,000 acres by ficials pleaded for reinforcements.
Monday night, was the most catastrophic of “We’ve been wondering, ‘Where in the
more than 14 wildfires across eight counties heck are they?’” Windsor Fire Chief Jack Pic-
in Northern California. The heaviest activity cinini said about 6 a.m. “I’ve asked, ‘Are units
centered in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and coming?’ and was told no, they’re going to the
Lake counties, where up to 75,000 acres had Atlas fire (in Napa County). That’s painful
burned. A total of 11 people were confirmed news to us. We’re still spread so thin.”
dead in the local fires, including two in Men- Highway 101 in Santa Rosa was completely
docino County and an elderly couple in Napa shut down in both directions, from Steele Lane
County. to Mark West Springs Road. Thick smoke kept
In Sonoma Valley, several fires burned badly needed Cal Fire tankers and helicopters
5,000 acres around Glen Ellen and Kenwood, grounded for much of the day. Commercial
where homes on both sides of Highway 12 flights at Charles. M. Schulz-Sonoma County
were destroyed. Airport were canceled.
“It has been a horrific and terrifying night With hours to go before sunrise, the fire
for a great many people,” acting Santa Rosa Po- had topped a ridge west of Santa Rosa, light-
lice Chief Craig Schwartz said Monday during ing the hillside with flames before swooping
a news conference. Low humidity and strong, down into town.
inland winds that developed over the weekend Ted Regan, who lives near Calistoga Road,
helped fuel the firestorm. Cal Fire and the Na- said he saw the glow from the foothills behind
tional Weather Service issued a red flag warn- his house about 2 a.m.
ing that extended through today, though gusts “It got brighter and brighter and then we
had largely died down by Monday evening. saw flames. That’s when we said, ‘It’s time to
By that time, the nightmare that many go,’” Regan said.
wildfire experts had long feared in Santa Rosa Rachel McKenzie, who fled her home south
had played out. It was a haunting sequel to the of Hopper Avenue in northwest Santa Rosa
disastrous Hanly fire of 1964, which originat- with her son, her husband and a crate filled
ed in the same rugged terrain along the Napa- with pet reptiles, described the frenzied evac-
Sonoma border and ripped through what was uation hours later as she awaited news of her
then mostly rural land. It was halted before it home at an emergency evacuation center.
reached the city’s core. “It was totally chaotic,” McKenzie said. “I
Not so this time.
Flames outpaced overmatched fire crews, TURN TO FIRESTORM » PAGE 7

California Wildfires • 6 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

to the Federal Emergency Management Agen-
FIRESTORM cy and the White House.
CONTINUED FROM 6 The cause of the Tubbs fire remains unde-
termined, though any small spark could have
saw a fire start in my neighbor’s house, and it been fanned into a conflagration by the gusts
was fully engulfed when we drove away.” Sunday night, Cal Fire officials said.
Work to evacuate patients from Kaiser Per- It started near Highway  128 and Bennett
manente and Sutter Santa Rosa hospitals in Lane north of Calistoga and spread southwest
north Santa Rosa began in darkness as wind- into Sonoma County through heavily wooded
blown smoke blanketed the Highway 101 cor- areas along Mark West Creek and Mark West
ridor. In the hills, and later in the flatlands, Springs Road.
residents were alerted to the fire’s approach Explosions from bursting propane tanks
by evacuation orders, made by reverse emer- punctuated the night as flames set the sky
gency calls and loudspeaker transmissions, aglow. Sunup Monday was otherworldly, with
and officers knocking on doors. a blood-red sun obscured by smoke, ash blan-
“These blazes have taken place at an indi- keting the ground and residents rushing to fill
vidual’s most vulnerable time, when they are up gas tanks and seek emergency shelter.
home and in bed,” State Sen. Mike McGuire, “It was like an apocalypse,” said Laura
D-Healdsburg, said. Mills, who lives on Wedgewood Way in Foun-
By midday, the evacuation orders included taingrove, and was forced to evacuate in bum-
Oakmont — the Sonoma Valley retirement per-to-bumper traffic to the Finley Commu-
community — Windsor’s southern outskirts nity Center. “It was very spooky.”
and the eastern border of Rohnert Park. Evacuation centers countywide filled
By that time, a large Mendocino Avenue through the day with anxious, exhausted peo-
mobile home park was left in smoldering ru- ple uncertain of what awaited them at home.
ins. About half of Cardinal Newman High Those awakened for hasty departures the pre-
School was destroyed along with landmarks vious night included assisted living and senior
including the Fountaingrove Inn, the Hilton home residents.
Sonoma Wine Country and the historic Foun- Roads, schools and businesses around the
taingrove Round Barn. The Luther Burbank area were closed as mandatory evacuation or-
Center for the Arts was partially damaged ders expanded.
and Paradise Ridge winery suffered extensive Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said the prelim-
damage. inary loss assessment of more than 1,500 resi-
Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, dential and commercial structures was drawn
who surveyed the damage Monday afternoon from “very conservative estimates.”
from a helicopter described the burned land- Several incidents of looting had been re-
scape as “a hellish war zone.” ported by Monday afternoon, in both residen-
“It looked like somebody bombed these tial and commercial areas. Acting Santa Rosa
neighborhoods,” she said. Police Chief Schwartz ordered a curfew pro-
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. reported 50,000 hibiting anyone from being inside a mandato-
Sonoma County customers were without pow- ry evacuation zone between the hours of 6:45
er Monday. Cellphone coverage was intermit- p.m. and 7:15 a.m.
tent throughout Monday as flames knocked Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano
out communication equipment in the region. said scores of law enforcement personnel,
“Due to wildfires, some wireless customers including at least 120 on loan from neighbor-
in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Humboldt ing counties, would patrol the fire areas in the
counties and their surrounding areas may be days ahead, stopping and potentially arrest-
experiencing issues with their wireless servic- ing anyone unauthorized found inside.
es,” said Leland Kim, media relations director Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey was
for AT&T. “We are working to restore service clearly emotional during brief remarks at
as quickly as possible.” Monday’s news briefing.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emer- “I’m lucky,” he said. “My house is fine. My
gency in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Yuba family is fine. My city is not. And it’s gonna
counties as well as others throughout the state. take a long time for us to recover what’s hap-
Sonoma County’s two congressmen, Jared pened today.”
Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Mike Thompson, But the city, he said, is strong.
D-St. Helena, traveled to the area Monday, and “We are a resilient city. We’re an indivis-
Thompson joined Zane in the aerial survey. ible city, and we’re gonna need to hang to-
He said he already had forwarded photos gether as we go through this.”

California Wildfires • 7 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

SR’s Coffey Park neighborhood
leveled, displacing thousands
By ROBERT DIGITALE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The wind screamed past the front of Gor-
don Easter’s northwest Santa Rosa home early
Monday as emergency officials drove by and
announced over loudspeakers that it was time
for residents to go.
Across the street, in the predawn dark, Ben
Hernandez and his family prepared to leave as
the sky showered down woody debris aglow in
flame.
“You could see embers falling the size of
BETH SCHLANKER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
quarters,” said Hernandez’s son, Ben Hernan- Liliana Contreras-Salgado sits with her daughters Gloria, 2, left,
dez Jr. and Fatima, 6, on Monday in front of where their home used to
be before it was destroyed by fire in Santa Rosa.
Their neighborhood, a compact subdivision
of modest single-family homes built decades
ago, was witness to a kind of unfathomable touched, but across the street burned-out cars
destruction Monday. Whole city blocks were littered driveways.
claimed by fire, displacing perhaps several The residents expressed disbelief that a
thousand people from an area with more than wildfire could reach their neighborhood from
1,000 homes. the hills where it earlier raged.
The ashen fallout was so complete that it “It’s not supposed to happen this way,” said
left many residents at a loss for words when resident Gary Padgett. “But it did.”
they returned to survey the damage Monday Padgett’s rented home near Crimson and
afternoon. Kerry lanes was saved by Gold Ridge firefight-
Fire has long been a threat for residents in ers along the northwest edge of the neighbor-
the wooded hills across Highway 101 to the east. hood. Few homes remained to his east or west,
This time, flames leapt from those hills, across though many were spared to the north.
the six highway lanes and frontage streets and “I’m thankful,” he said. “That’s all I can
rained down on their homes. say.”
The fire incinerated houses stretching from Public safety officials urged people to stay
a few blocks north of Piner Road almost to out of the evacuation areas, and late Monday
Dennis Lane on the northern edge of the city. city police announced a mandatory curfew in
In the middle of the subdivision, not a home those zones from 6:45 p.m. to sunrise. But the
appears to be left standing for three-quarters magnitude of the fire’s damage brought out
of a mile. both residents and sightseers Monday to Cof-
“It hasn’t really hit me that I don’t have fey Park.
anything I used to have,” said Easter, who has Most, like Hernandez, could do little but
lived on Hopper Avenue for 20 years. gawk over what was gone.
He paused to note the wreckage of a neigh- “We basically lost everything,” he said,
bor’s car in a nearby driveway. It worried him standing near Hopper and Sumatra Drive. He
that the neighbor, a woman who lived alone, choked up as he recalled that in the hurried
might have failed to escape the flames. evacuation he had left behind his wedding ring.
Seven deaths have been reported in north- The fire jumped Highway 101 during the
ern Santa Rosa neighborhoods from the blaze, night, apparently near the Kohl’s department
dubbed the Tubbs fire, and both Easter’s and store on Hopper Avenue. Three nearby restau-
the Hernandez’s homes lie in ruins, part of a rants went up in flames.
terrible wasteland in the Coffey Park neigh- In the first single-family neighborhood to
borhood. the west, which includes Skyview and Crest-
Around the city park that gave the neigh- view drives, only a dozen of the more than 200
borhood its name, not a home remains. Coffey
Park’s baby swings and blue slide looked un- TURN TO COFFEY PARK » PAGE 9

California Wildfires • 8 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

RELATED VIDEO
Amid explosions and
hissing of natural
gas, reporter Martin
Espinoza streams a
9-minute Facebook
Live video from the
heart of the burning
and evacuated Coffey
Park neighborhood.

See the video:
bit.ly/2Dd74Ff

turned with his wife, Joyce, before 9 a.m.
COFFEY PARK A neighbor, Peggy Sharp, soon drove up
CONTINUED FROM 8 with partner Steve Balch to confirm that
Sharps’ home had been destroyed across the
single-family houses remained intact. Among street. Sharp remained stoic until she saw
them was the home of Grace Muga, who lives Joyce Murdick approach. The two neighbors
on Skyview with her parents and two siblings. hugged and wept.
Muga returned with her friend Farai “It’s unbelievable,” Sharp said of the de-
Jumbe about 8 a.m. Monday to find the home struction. “Just like that.”
largely untouched. When told how few of the The burned area’s southeast edge lay a few
surrounding homes survived, the two women blocks north of Schaefer Elementary School
dropped to their knees in disbelief. near Sweetgum Street and Sweetgum Court.
Next door, a neighbor’s fence still burned, Roommates Travis Fuesz and Juan Valencia
threatening Muga’s house. A Santa Rosa fire- returned there Monday afternoon, passing by
truck pulled up and a fire crew quickly doused scores of destroyed houses.
the flames. A firefighter advised Muga that a “Our stomachs just sank,” Fuesz said of
working garden hose was nearby should she the neighbors’ losses. He recalled thinking,
need it. As the crew got back in their truck, “There’s no way our home is still there.”
Muga prayed aloud, “God, watch over them, In fact, the home and those next to it sur-
please.” vived on the south side of Sweetgum Court.
Across the street, chimney after chimney However, across the street the fire appeared to
stood alone amid the rubble. have consumed several blocks of homes all the
“These are my neighbors,” Muga said. way north to Hopper Avenue.
At the southwest edge of the morning’s de- On the burned area’s southern edge, San
struction, the fire jumped the SMART train Francisco and Santa Rosa firefighters were
tracks near San Miguel Avenue, but it was able to stop the flames near Sansone Drive and
stopped a few blocks to the west. Sansone Court, said resident Dan Buschena.
At Frida Street off San Miguel, all the homes Their efforts saved his house two blocks north
on the east side remained standing, while near- of Piner.
ly all the homes on the west side had been de- Buschena returned to his residence about 8
stroyed. Natural gas lines spewed flames. a.m. to see the San Francisco firefighters bat-
John Murdick stood atop his home on the tling flames consuming his neighbor’s home to
east side of Frida and doused the roof with a the west.
garden hose. When the firefighters learned Buschena
Asked how long he’d lived there, he yelled, owned the home next door, they sought to ease
“Twenty-seven years. And I’m not giving up.” his mind. He recalled they told him, “We got
He evacuated in the early morning but re- it.”

California Wildfires • 9 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Jim Stites watches his neighborhood burn Monday in Fountaingrove in Santa Rosa.

Neighborhood set ablaze
Some residents watch as flames level block after block in one of hardest-hit areas
By MARTIN ESPINOZA AND KEVIN McCALLUM several prominent businesses, including the
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Fountaingrove Inn, its Equus restaurant and
Mariana Eakle, 11, woke to the smell of several structures at the Hilton Sonoma Wine
smoke seeping into her Fountaingrove house Country.
on Park Gardens Drive and alerted her par- For Tracy Weitzenberg, a peaceful Sunday
ents, Lori Barekman and Wade Eakle, about evening spiraled into a sleepless, nightmarish
1:45 a.m. night that would end with her beloved Foun-
“We could see so much smoke and all the taingrove home in ashes.
reflections of the fire from our back deck,” Weitzenberg and her husband, Todd, a
Barekman said. physician at Kaiser Permanente, had lived
After conferring with neighbors, Barek- there for 15 years and just sent their youngest
man and her family decided to flee. All of her son off to college at UC Davis. They got two
neighbors left, too. weeks as empty-nesters.
“No one that I know of stayed,” she said. “Now I have a real empty nest,” Weitzen-
“We were on the top and it was coming toward berg said, a moment of levity at the end of a
you. All of our neighbors are out. … The main day of both strength and desperation.
thing is we’re all safe. We’re all good.” She first caught the scent of smoke in the
Fire from the glow she saw from her deck air when she went out on her deck around
would soon reach the Fountaingrove area, 10:20 p.m. but didn’t think much of it, believ-
bringing unimaginable destruction to the up- ing it was from a distant Napa County fire.
scale hillside neighborhood. But around 11:30 p.m. they got a call from
While the toll of the firestorm has not friends who were evacuating from their home
yet been tallied, the damage is widespread. off Porter Creek Road and urged them to do
Flames leveled block after block of homes
in Fountaingrove and destroyed or damaged TURN TO NEIGHBORHOOD » PAGE 11

California Wildfires • 10 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

flicked his cigarette behind a roadside tavern
NEIGHBORHOOD near Mt. St. Helena, raced over Santa Rosa’s
CONTINUED FROM 10 eastern hills.
“I remember there was a great deal of
the same. anxiety as the glowing got closer and closer,”
Her husband started packing furiously, Sawyer said.
but Weitzenberg remained less concerned, The fire was ultimately stopped within
she said. yards of the former county hospital on Chan-
“I have a pretty positive attitude, so I still ate Road, but not before scorching 52,700
wasn’t thinking it was going to happen to my acres.
house,” said Weitzenberg, director of public “Ever since then people have been talk-
policy for the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber. ing about how that area was due for another
But when the power went out and she pretty large fire,” Sawyer said. “This is to me
went to charge her cellphone in her car, Weit- a major wakeup call on a number of levels.”
zenberg saw her Southridge Drive neighbors High up on a hill bounded by Bicenten-
gathered in the street looking with concern at nial Way, Mendocino Avenue and Lake Park
a sky glowing ominously. Her younger broth- Court, a group of local residents worked tire-
er, who lives higher up on Fountaingrove, lessly to keep flames and smoldering embers
said he could see the fire approaching. from climbing up the southeast slope and de-
Worried they could be trapped in their hill- stroying a handful of homes.
side cul-de-sac, the couple scooped up their Lake Park Court resident Jim Henderson
dogs, Trix and Puka, and went to help their said his father built one of the threatened
parents evacuate from their homes in the homes in 1964, a few months before the Hanly
nearby Hidden Valley neighborhood. They fire.
made their way down to her father’s law firm, “It was a fire just like this, burned all the
Abbey, Weitzenberg, Warren & Emery, where way from Calistoga to Santa Rosa and it was
they huddled in a conference room around 4 the exact same time of year,” he said.
a.m. and spent much of the day. Across the street, residents of the Over-
Though she was still optimistic that some- look at Fountaingrove apartment complex
how her home survived, every new bit of watched their homes burn Monday morn-
information — the loss of a new fire station ing. Thick smoke clouded the apartments,
up the hill, the destruction of the shopping which seemed to defy the flames until one
center near her home housing Sweet T’s — building, on the southeast corner, caught fire
seemed to confirm her worst fears. in the rear. By about 10:45 a.m., flames and
Then a friend of one of her sons swung smoke were soon billowing from the roof of
by the street and sent a picture of what little the structure as tearful residents looked on in
was left. In one photo she could see the bas- horror, standing in the parking lot of the ad-
ketball hoop where her sons, who both played jacent Lucky supermarket and Home Depot.
the game in high school, spent so many hours Near the top of the hill, at the intersec-
enjoying the only home they’d ever known. tion of Fountaingrove Parkway and Newgate
Then it hit her. Court, fire destroyed the city’s $4 million fire
“It just dropped me,” Weitzenberg said. station, Station 5. The station, opened only
“We just cried together on the phone. For the two years ago, was designed to improve the
boys, being so far away, they just can’t under- department’s ability to respond to fire and
stand how this could possibly happen.” medical calls in the area. But it was no match
Santa Rosa’s eastern hills, including the for Monday’s fire. Before 6 a.m., portions of
Fountaingrove, Alta Vista, Montecito Heights, the fire station’s front wall were collapsing.
Hidden Valley and Brush Creek neighbor- The fire destroyed four Fountaingrove
hoods, have all long concerned local officials homes belonging to family of the late Gene
and firefighters. Crozat, founder of Santa Rosa-based G&C
They’re located in what firefighters call Auto Body. That included sons Patrick and
a wildland-urban interface, where homes in Josh and daughter Jamie Crozat-Keck, as
wooded rural and semi-rural areas are effec- well as their mother Teri Crozat, who recent-
tively surrounded by highly combustible fu- ly purchased a home in Fountaingrove to be
els. near her children and grandchildren but had
Former Santa Rosa Mayor John Sawyer yet to move into it.
was a young boy the last time Fountaingrove Tara Crozat, who is married to Patrick
burned this badly. It was Sept. 19, 1964, and
the Hanly fire, started by a deer hunter who TURN TO NEIGHBORHOOD » PAGE 12

California Wildfires • 11 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

las, said the family has since confirmed via
NEIGHBORHOOD TV news video that their homes have been de-
CONTINUED FROM 11 stroyed. The family still doesn’t know about
the home of a fourth sibling, Shawn Crozat,
Crozat, said all the siblings were traveling in who lives off Brush Creek.
North Carolina when they got a call at about “We just kept hoping it was a bad dream,
1 a.m. informing them about the fire. that we were going to wake up and it’s not
Tara Crozat, who spoke by cellphone just real,” said Tara Crozat. “We’re just kind of in
before boarding a plane to Oakland from Dal- a state of shock.”

BETH SCHLANKER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
San Francisco firefighters work to put out a fire Monday in Glen Ellen.

SONOMA VALLEY

Caught between wildfires,
vineyards, homes destroyed
Officials estimate about 8,000 acres burned, with potential to spread
By MEG McCONAHAY AND RANDI ROSSMANN And in the middle, in the heart of the Val-
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
ley of the Moon, firefighters battled to save
Residents of the bucolic Sonoma Valley the landmark town of Glen Ellen, the histor-
found themselves bottled up in their narrow ic home of Jack London, making a stand at
wine-growing region Monday between wild- key points in the village core as the hillsides
fires that raged across the parched southern around them erupted.
hills of Sears Point and leveled lush estates “We picked good spots we thought we
and prized vineyards at the northern end of
the valley near the quaint town of Kenwood. TURN TO VALLEY » PAGE 13

California Wildfires • 12 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

dences were intact in the morning.
VALLEY “We were just up all night, running around
CONTINUED FROM 12 yard to yard,” Clemo said.
The night’s mayhem was punctuated by
could engage and make a stand,” said Bob exploding propane tanks.
Norrbom, battalion chief for Sonoma Valley “You could hear them blowing,” Clemo
Fire who helped manage the effort. “Glen El- said.
len is not out of the woods yet, but it’s looking Bijan Kazemi said he called in friends from
pretty good.” Marin County and other places and pulled to-
Sonoma Valley fire officials early Monday gether a team that spent the night saving his
estimated a total of about 8,000 acres burned home on the east side of Highway 12.
with the potential to spread to 20,000 acres. No “I had a fire extinguisher, water stored
update was available Monday night, by which and a generator,” he said, crediting two young
time two smaller fires also had burned in the firefighters from Bodega Bay, who his girl-
valley. friend had flagged down, with steering the
The Glen Ellen blaze, called the Nunn fire fire around the house and saving it.
for its origin during the night near Nunns “I’m going to find you, Emily and Justin,
Canyon Road and Nelligan Road, spread down and thank you,” he promised.
along Warm Springs Road to Sonoma Moun- On the south end of Arnold Drive, High-
tain Road and the Sonoma Developmental way 121, flames crested Cougar Mountain
Center. By Monday evening, the most active behind the Sonoma Raceway as dawn broke.
arm of the fire was burning farther east, be- That fire was still visible to midday motorists
tween Trinity and Cavedale roads in steep on Highway 37, which had been closed earlier
terrain. in the morning.
“We just don’t have the resources. We have Steve Page, president and general man-
very, very limited resources because of the ager of Sonoma Raceway, issued a statement
sheer volume of fires,” Norrbom said. saying, “Our facilities team and a number of
While firefighters tackled that front, an- local fire companies have been battling grass-
other group battled flames in nearby Ken- land fires on Cougar Mountain and elsewhere
wood. That front moved west toward Bennett around our property, and at this point it does
Valley and Monday night still was spurring not appear any of the raceway’s structures or
evacuations on Santa Rosa’s eastern out- other facilities are at immediate risk.”
skirts. Flames also menaced the end of rural
Large estate properties and beautiful- Norrbom Road in the Schell-Vista fire dis-
ly manicured homes — along Highway 12, trict. That fire burned up to about 200 acres.
on Treehaven Lane and Court and parts of “That caused a lot of consternation because
Greene Street — were reduced to rubble. it’s so close to the city of Sonoma,” Sonoma
“This is the disaster we’ve all dreaded,” Valley Fire Chief Steve Akre said.
said Jay Gamel, who has lived in the Sonoma Yet another fire that started in Napa Coun-
Valley for more than 35 years, and whose own ty burned south to Highway 121 near the old
home up Adobe Canyon Road — on the road Stornetta dairy and damaged several struc-
to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park — remained tures in the area, Akre said.
under threat. Many roads in Sonoma Valley remained
Kenwood was like a ghost town under slate closed. They included Broadway east of Wat-
skies, with most of the 1,200 residents evacu- maugh in Sonoma, Arnold Drive in Agua
ated and businesses closed down. A handful of Caliente and Calistoga Road in Rincon Valley,
people with dazed looks moved among the si- up to Mark West Springs Road.
lent smoky streets in cars and pickups, check- An emergency shelter at Sonoma Valley
ing on neighbors and searching for stray pets. High School on Broadway reported nearly
Caregivers helped safely evacuate six frail 500 evacuees. A second center at Ramekins
residents from a board and care home on Culinary School on Spain Street was serving
Treehaven. more than 100 evacuees.
Homeowners on the east side of Greene Back north, Sugarloaf Ridge was almost
Street saw the wildfire halted within a 100 completely cloaked in smoke most of the day.
yards of their homes. Flames ripped through the deeply wooded
Doug Clemo said he spent early Monday canyon, leveling at least 10 homes, Gamel
hosing down embers that touched his roof, said.
while his neighbor, Ron Folla, fought off blaz-
es that torched his trees. Both of their resi- TURN TO VALLEY » PAGE 14

California Wildfires • 13 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat Published October 10, 2017

neighbors were not so lucky.
VALLEY The face of the historic Chateau St. Jean
CONTINUED FROM 13 Winery off Highway 12 building appeared to
be standing through heavy smoke cloaking
Chuck Easley, who owns a home and a the valley. Homes around the winery were de-
small winery, La Rochelle, on Adobe Can- stroyed, among them the picturesque Sonoma
yon Road, credited his dog with nudging him Lavender Farm and Barn just to the north.
awake in the middle of the night and possibly Rebecca and Gary Rosenberg, who had de-
saving his life. veloped the property over 30 years, were va-
“I woke up to Armageddon. This entire cationing in Utah.
place was in flames. They were everywhere,” “We’re not lamenting everything that is
he said. Outside it looked as if it were the lost,” Gary Rosenberg said. “The most impor-
middle of the day. His brick and cinder block tant thing is our kids and our dogs and each
house survived, but his vineyard burned. For- other, are all fine.
tunately, he had already harvested his grapes. “We’re going to rebuild. But for now our
“I pride myself on being a lucky person. whole energy is going into figuring out where
But the fact we lucked out makes me feel we’re going to live for the next two to three
guilty,” he said, lamenting that immediate years.”

California Wildfires • 14 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat

FIRESTORM NIGHTMARE:
How we covered the early hours of
California’s most destructive fire
Raging wildfires driven by dry, violent winds roared into neighborhoods in Sonoma, Napa,
Lake and Mendocino counties in the early hours of Oct. 9. Combined, the firestorm destroyed
6,190 homes and killed 40 people in the region. Thousands fled as the massive Tubbs fire raced
into dense neighborhoods in Santa Rosa where many residents had little or no warning to evac-
uate. It was the most destructive fire ever in California. The Press Democrat used its website,
live video feeds, social media channels and cellphone push alerts to dispatch real-time news on
this disaster as it unfolded in the middle of the night.

ABOUT 10 P.M., SUNDAY, OCT. 8 » As the wind howls outside his Windsor home, photographer
Kent Porter turns on his scanner and hears crews talking about a brush fire 13 miles away off
Tubbs Lane on Highway 128 near Calistoga. He grabs his gear and takes off.

As he passes over Mark West Springs and Petrified Forest roads, he can see the glow of fire in
the hills. “The wind was just going crazy,” he said later. “Grass was burning. Vineyards were
burning. Power poles were going back and forth, and electrical lines were sparking. It was pan-
demonium.”

10:42 P.M. » One of Porter’s first photos is a ghostly image of a firefighter racing through the
yard of a home near the origin of the Tubbs fire. The flames would soon begin devouring rural
homes in the valleys bordering Napa and Sonoma counties, racing west toward the region’s
largest city. “This thing is going all the way to Santa Rosa,” a fire official tells Porter.

11:50 P.M. » Porter sends a text message to Managing Editor Ted Appel: “Ted this is going to be
in Santa Rosa in a few minutes. I strongly suggest you get a reporter out.” Appel begins waking
up reporters and preparing the first story.

California Wildfires • 15 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat
12:35 A.M., MONDAY, OCT. 9 » First story is posted on pressdemocrat.com, filed by Appel, still
in his pajamas, from his home:

Wind-whipped fires broke out across Sonoma County late Sunday night and early
Monday morning, forcing the evacuation of rural neighborhoods northeast of Santa
Rosa as firefighters attacked the blazes.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered from a wildfire reported between Calistoga and
Santa Rosa, to the east of Porter Creek Road and Petrified Forest Road, the Sonoma
County Sheriff’s Office announced shortly after 11 p.m.
Evacuations were ordered along Porter Creek, Petrified Forest, Franz Valley and
Mountain Home Ranch roads. Deputies were dispatched to help firefighters and CHP
officers with evacuations.
“If you live in this area, please be alert for the danger,” the Sheriff’s Office said shortly
after 11 p.m. “We are not on scene yet and haven’t been able to determine the best
evacuation route.”
Many trees were down on Calistoga Road and 911 lines were inundated with callers
reporting smoke. Dispatchers asked
the public to refrain from calling, unless
they were facing an immediate emer-
gency.
Multiple fires broke out Sunday night
as strong winds buffeted the area. In
Sonoma County, fires were reported
in Santa Rosa, at Mark West Springs
and Riebli roads; in Windsor at Shiloh
Road and Conde Lane; in Sebastopol
at Highway 116 and Fredericks Road;
in Kenwood, on Lawndale Road; and in
Glen Ellen, on Dunbar Road.
In Napa County, firefighters were bat-
tling a 200 acre fire off Atlas Peak Road
south of Lake Berryessa, Cal Fire re-
ported.
Check back later for more details.

12:40 A.M. » Porter reports that another fire
is burning in the Sonoma Valley. He files im-
ages from the scene at 12:40 a.m. and posts an
image on Twitter.

12:58 A.M. » The main story on The Press
Democrat’s home page is updated to include
new fires in Sonoma and Napa counties. A
link to the updated story and new photos is
posted on Facebook:

Multiple structures were burning early
Monday near downtown Kenwood,
where the fire had crossed over Sonoma
Creek. Fires were burning on both sides
of Highway 12 in swirling winds, with
gusts of 50 to 60 miles per hour. Mul-
tiple structures were also burning on
Adobe Canyon Road, east of Kenwood
across Highway 12.
In Napa County, firefighters were bat-
tling a 200 acre fire off Atlas Peak Road south of Lake Berryessa, Cal Fire reported.

California Wildfires • 16 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat
1:30 A.M. » The impact story
at pressdemocrat.com is now a
rolling update including fresh
photos and video from staff
and readers. Reporters and
photographers in the field feed
information to reporter Julie
Johnson in the newsroom,
where she updates our online
report through the early hours
of the crisis.

It would be updated 18 times
between the initial post and 6
a.m.

2:16 A.M. » Porter has returned
to Santa Rosa and begins send-
ing photos from the Fountain-
grove neighborhood, where
1,519 homes would burn. The
smoke is so thick he navigates
by driving on the raised pave-
ment markers in the middle of
the road. He continues posting
to Twitter.

3:12 A.M. » While enroute to the newsroom, Executive Editor Catherine Barnett is forced to de-
tour by closed roads. She encounters bumper-to-bumper traffic heading to an evacuation center
that had already been declared full. “There was a man in a vest out front refusing to let more
people into Finley,” she said later. She stops at the center and files a brief item for the rolling
update:

Cars thronged the parking lot at Finley Center on West College Avenue in Santa Rosa
shortly before 3 a.m. Monday and traffic was stopped trying to turn into the center,
which was designated as an evacuation center.

California Wildfires • 17 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat

3:46 A.M. TO 3:53 A.M. » Porter sends six photos showing flames devouring the Round Barn,
Willi’s Wine Bar, a building near Hopper Lane, and Skyfarm in the Fountaingrove neighbor-
hood.

4:22 A.M. » Reporter Martin Espinoza shows viewers destruction of Journey’s End mobile
home park, where two people died, and Coffey Park, where four died, in a 31-minute Facebook
Live video.

See the video: bit.ly/2mPxK5p

California Wildfires • 18 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat
4:49 A.M. » Barnett contributes this from state Sen. Mike McGuire:

Ten major fires broke out after 10 p.m. Sunday in Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino
counties, said state Sen. Mike McGuire.
“These blazes have taken place at an individual’s most vulnerable time, when they are
home and in bed,” he said.
The hills surrounding Santa Rosa glowed red early Monday and evacuees fleeing the
fire clogged West College Avenue at 3 a.m., as officials opened additional shelters.
Multiple fires burning in densely populated areas at night propelled by winds gusting
up to 50 miles per hour severely strained firefighters, McGuire said.
“Of great concern is Kenwood, Glen Ellen and greater Santa Rosa,” he added. Dark-
ness made it difficult to determine how many acres had burned and impossible to fight
the fires from the air. McGuire said that hundreds of firefighters were en route from
throughout the state and that aerial attacks would begin at first light, with winds ex-
pected to ease by 9 a.m.

EARLY MORNING, OCT. 9 »
A 9-minute YouTube video,
created by photographer
Kent Porter, aggregates
video shot during the early
hours of the Oct. 9 wild-
fires.

See the video:
bit.ly/2DcqUR5

4:52 A.M. » Reporter Paul Payne contributes this dispatch from a large evacuation center in Santa
Rosa:

The Finley Center was crowded with hundreds of evacuees as of 4 a.m. The city of
Santa Rosa directed residents to go there in the fire’s aftermath. Many seniors from
nursing homes from the hillside region were being brought to the center.
Ted Regan, who lives near Calistoga Road, said he saw the glow from the foothills
behind his house about 2 a.m. “It got brighter and brighter and then we saw flames.
That’s when we said, ‘It’s time to go,’” Regan said.
He, his wife, two adult sons, two dogs, four cats and two birds all got in his car and left
immediately.
Rachel McKenzie, who lives on Tuliptree Road, started to evacuate at 2 a.m. with her
12-year-old, Bryce Ward, and her husband, Kevin Ward. They left with their reptiles and
dog as they fled their house. Pulling out, their neighbor’s house was fully engulfed.
“It was totally chaotic,” McKenzie.
Her neighbor later called her and said her house burned down.
Laura Mills, who lives Wedgewood Way in Fountaingrove, was forced to evacuate with
her husband at 2 a.m.
“It was very spooky. It was like an apocalypse,” Mills said of the bumper-to-bumper traf-
fic as she left her house.

California Wildfires • 19 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
4:54 A.M. » Espinoza
joins Porter in Santa
Rosa’s Coffey Park
area. Amid explosions
and hissing of natural
gas, Espinoza begins
a stunning 9-minute
Facebook Live video
from the heart of the
burning and evacuated
neighborhood.

See the video:
bit.ly/2Dd74Ff

5 A.M. » Reporter Robert Digitale
updates a list of evacuation zones
and provides details of evacuation
centers in four counties impacted
by the fires. bit.ly/2rp6pLZ

5:02 A.M. » The paywall is lifted at
pressdemocrat.com.

6:41 A.M. » First
of the day’s nine
push alerts is sent.

6:43 A.M. » Sports columnist Kerry
Benefield reports on damage to lo-
cal schools and closures across the
region. bit.ly/2xsJF0k

California Wildfires • 20 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat

7:01 A.M. » Espinoza and reporter Guy
Kovner cover the evacuation of patients and
personnel from Kaiser Permanente and Sut-
ter hospitals. Photographer Beth Schlanker
files images of evacuated patients at a nearby
shelter. bit.ly/2DjyOos

7:37 A.M. » Update details the destruction of
Santa Rosa landmarks including schools, ho-
tels, restaurants and a historic site.
bit.ly/2mSK8kf

California Wildfires • 21 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat
9 A.M. » The first gallery of reader-submitted
photos is posted to pressdemocrat.com.

9 A.M. » Reporter Randi Rossmann files a
story about a Larkfield family that alerted
neighbors and narrowly escaped the flames.
bit.ly/2mUM0K2

10 A.M » Digitale files a story about
residents returning to their devastated
neighborhoods. Reporter Nick Rahaim
posts a video of Yvette Lopez outside her
destroyed home in the Coffey Park neigh-
borhood.
Story: bit.ly/2DSK6Rq
Video: youtu.be/T97tI-v0ecI

Over the next 10 hours, as reporters and photographers continue filing from the field and our
news team begins planning for print coverage the next day, Press Democrat staff post 11 new
stories and a photo gallery with 68 images documenting the firestorms’ toll. Stories are updat-
ed throughout the day and into the evening with new information, photos and videos.

California Wildfires • 22 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat
11 A.M. » Staff reports road closures and impacts to Social Media
the region’s transportation network. bit.ly/2Bgugx5

11 A.M. » Reporter Bill Swindell reports on the impact
to Napa and Sonoma wineries. bit.ly/2DRFX0i

NOON » Our online producers create a photo gallery
to share images of the day. bit.ly/2Dh8nj5

1 P.M. » Rossmann reports on the deadly fires 65 miles
to the north in Mendocino County, and officials’ fears
the death toll will climb. She then teams with reporter
Meg McConahey, working from the Sonoma Valley, for
a story on the fight to save Kenwood and Glen Ellen.
bit.ly/2mSmXGZ

3 P.M. » Death toll rises to 11 across Sonoma, Napa and
Mendocino counties. Johnson and reporter J.D. Mor-
ris warn it will continue to increase. bit.ly/2DxlYWO

3 P.M. » Fire evacuees shared their worries and fears
in a story by reporters Christi Warren, Eloisa Ruano
Gonzalez, Rossmann and Rahaim. bit.ly/2mUwZrd

3:29 P.M. » Rossmann reports on another fire burning
25 miles to the north of Santa Rosa. bit.ly/2EXku5B

We used Facebook and Twitter
to reach people who were forced
from their homes and were fol-
lowing the fires closely on their
phones. Some examples:
11:16 A.M. » Gov. Jerry Brown de-
clares state of emergency, shared
on Twitter. bit.ly/2Dkq41a

11:30 A.M. » Facebook post on
the scene that awaited residents
returning to Coffey Park.
bit.ly/2FVfXBZ

12:16 P.M. » Smoke fills the skies
over the Bay Area, triggering
health warnings, shared on Twit-
ter. bit.ly/2DhW5XH
7 P.M. » Reporter Kevin McCallum teams with Espi-
1:54 P.M. » Update on damage to
noza to chronicle the devastation in the city’s upscale
Coffey Park shared on Facebook.
Fountaingrove neighborhood. bit.ly/2DrCCIv
bit.ly/2Dj2HoF
7:25 P.M. » Digitale captures the unfathomable de-
2:33 P.M. » Updated map of evacu-
struction of Coffey Park, using satellite images of the
ation zones and link to list of
neighborhood before the fires to count the number
shelters shared on Facebook.
of homes in the perimeter. He determines more than
bit.ly/2Dk2sdh
1,000 homes had been leveled — far more than official
estimates at the time. bit.ly/2rjErS8
4:38 P.M. » Update on the rising
death toll in Santa Rosa shared on
8 P.M. » Morris reports on emergency restrictions to
Facebook. bit.ly/2BdwVYJ
public water consumption in Larkfield. bit.ly/2DjPNa4

California Wildfires • 23 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat

Our last posted story of
the night, the final version
of the main write-thru for
Page 1 of our print edition,
is published online after
11 p.m., almost 23 hours
after we began the day’s
coverage. It carries bylines
from five reporters, but
reflects contributions from
all 14 of our news reporters
and four photographers.

http://bit.ly/2xwRFZh

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017 • SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA • PRESSDEMOCRAT.COM

FOUNTAINGROVE » SONOMA VALLEY » REDWOOD VALLEY »
Neighborhoods razed Area ‘like a ghost town’ At least 2 dead as blaze
in north Santa Rosa as fires flank Highway 12 spreads toward Willits

FIRESTORM
LAYS WASTE

KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A Cazadero firefighter struggles to protect a home from catching fire Monday morning in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa. Tens of thousands of residents were forced to flee their
homes hours before sunrise early Monday as flames raced through neighborhoods. By nightfall, the Tubbs fire, which began in Napa County, was still uncontrolled on many fronts.

Inferno kills 7,
leaves ‘complete
devastation’
By MARY CALLAHAN, PAUL PAYNE, TRACKING
RANDI ROSSMANN, JULIE JOHNSON FIRES’ TOLL
AND J.D. MORRIS The single-day
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
toll of the Tubbs
fire made it the
A raging firestorm born in the dark of worst disaster on
night by dry, violent winds roared down record in Sonoma
from the rural hills bordering Napa and County. Five
Sonoma counties early Monday and cut other fires were
a devastating swath into Santa Rosa uncontrolled as
from its eastern outskirts, killing at least of Monday.
seven city residents and destroying more
INSIDE
than 1,500 struc-
tures.
5,000
■ Unimaginable Tens of thousands
Acreage of BETH SCHLANKER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
destruction in SR’s of people were forced
Nunns fire in
Sonoma County Liliana Contreras-Salgado sits with her daughters Gloria, 2, left, and Fatima, 6, on Monday in front
hillside Fountaingrove to flee their homes of where their home used to be before it was destroyed by fire in Santa Rosa.
neighborhood / A3 hours before sun-
■ A deadly Redwood rise, when the ruin
19,000
Valley wildfire caused wrought by flames
at least 2 fatalities in several terrifying
Acreage of
Redwood
Complex fires
SR’s Coffey Park neighborhood
hours became ap-
with more deaths
expected / A3 parent over a rural
■ Carnage of natural and urban landscape
in Mendocino
County leveled, displacing thousands
spanning more than
disaster captured in
images as the day 50 square miles. In 27,000 BY ROBERT DIGITALE Their neighborhood, a compact subdivi-
Sonoma County Acreage of THE PRESS DEMOCRAT sion of modest single-family homes built
unfolded / A6, A7 Tubbs fire in
alone, officials said decades ago, was witness to a kind of un-
100 people were reported missing. Sonoma and The wind screamed past the front of Gor- fathomable destruction Monday. Whole city
For thousands of firefighters and res- Napa Counties don Easter’s northwest Santa Rosa home blocks were claimed by fire, displacing per-
idents trying to protect homes, the fire early Monday as emergency officials drove haps several thousand people from an area
driven by gusts up to 68 mph was an 25,000 by and announced over loudspeakers that it with more than 1,000 homes.
amorphous, unstoppable force, rampag- Acreage of was time for residents to go. The ashen fallout was so complete that it
ing through Mark West Springs, Lark- Atlas fire in Across the street, in the predawn dark, left many residents at a loss for words when
field and Wikiup, and Fountaingrove, Napa County Ben Hernandez and his family prepared to they returned to survey the damage Monday
where it claimed hundreds of upscale leave as the sky showered down woody de- afternoon.
Santa Rosa houses tucked into forested 3,000 bris aglow in flame. Fire has long been a threat for residents in
hillsides. Acreage of “You could see embers falling the size of the wooded hills across Highway 101 to the
Patrick fire in quarters,” said Hernandez’s son, Ben Her-
TURN TO FIRESTORM » PAGE A10 Napa County nandez Jr. TURN TO COFFEY PARK » PAGE A11

ONLINE: STAY UP TO DATE ON FIREFIGHTING EFFORTS AND EVACUATIONS AND SEE MORE PHOTOS AND VIDEO AT PRESSDEMOCRAT.COM

Comics B8 Legals B5 Nation-World B1 Sports B3 TRANSPARENCY FOR DRUG PRICES: Gov. Brown SANTA ROSA ©2017
Crossword B7 Lotto A2 Obituaries A9 State news A12 approved a measure Monday to increase High 82, Low 42 The Press
Democrat
Editorial A13 Movies B6 Smith A8 TV B9 disclosure on prescription drug prices / B1 THE WEATHER, B10

California Wildfires • 24 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat
VIDEO:
How we used Facebook Live and YouTube

T he Press Democrat used live video to show readers the most destructive wildfire in
California history as it ripped into Sonoma County’s largest city before dawn on
Oct. 9, 2017. This 8½-minute video provides abbreviated examples of Press Demo-
crat reporting as flames surrounded us that first day. It was streamed in real time on
Facebook and posted later to YouTube.

SEE THE VIDEO COMPILATION : http://bit.ly/2DCmK1S
Staff Writer Martin Espinoza was covering the evacuation of 130 patients from Santa
Rosa’s largest hospital, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, at 4:22 a.m. when he saw the
orange glow of fire over a parking garage and headed toward the flames. He captured the
destruction of Journey’s End mobile home park, where two people died and 140 homes
were leveled, and interviewed survivors in a 31-minute Facebook Live video shot from the
garage roof.
Staff Photographer Kent Porter joined Espinoza at the hospital and they drove just
over a mile to the northwest to survey Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood, where
four died and 1,347 homes were destroyed. At 4:54 a.m., amid explosions and hissing of
natural gas, Espinoza streams a 9-minute Facebook Live video from the heart of the
burning neighborhood.
Later, Porter uploaded video to YouTube documenting the opening minutes of the
most devastating fire near its origin point outside Calistoga, 12 miles northeast of Santa
Rosa, before midnight on Oct. 8. He also filmed the destruction of Santa Rosa’s Fountain-
grove and Coffey Park neighborhoods as homes burned to the ground, and the remains of
Coffey Park after sunrise.
This compilation ends with aerial video shot by Porter on Oct. 25 showing the damage
in Fountaingrove, where two people died and 1,519 homes were destroyed. This 19-second
clip, which was not published in the first 24 hours, should be viewed as supplemental
information.
The resolution on the Facebook Live video is grainy, but it provided an invaluable tool
to get information out immediately to a public desperate to understand the danger.
Espinoza’s two Facebook Live videos have been viewed nearly 600,000 times and
drawn more than 4,200 comments. Many were from viewers grateful for our coverage
— and concerned for the safety of our journalists. “Martin & Kent Porter, thank you for
your coverage. Stay safe!” Jodie Stevens Bissig wrote.
ORIGINAL VIDEO CONTENT AS PUBLISHED ON OCT. 9 » NEXT PAGE

California Wildfires • 25 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Press Democrat

FACEBOOK LIVE VIDEO PUBLISHED OCT. 9

4:22 A.M. » http://bit.ly/2mPxK5p 5:50 A.M. » http://bit.ly/2Eozla3
From Kaiser Medical Center From Fountaingrove
4:54 A.M. » http://bit.ly/2DQiuju 5:44 P.M. » http://bit.ly/2DNsgi6
From Coffey Park Interview with fire victim who lost house in
9:09 A.M. » http://bit.ly/2DO3iDb Coffey Park
From Home Depot

YOUTUBE VIDEO PUBLISHED OCT. 9

Coffee Park burns Daylight reveals damage in Glen Ellen (1)
https://youtu.be/LqTcc-bLCIk https://youtu.be/cBVxk5-dEUU
Kmart burns Daylight reveals damage in Glen Ellen (2)
https://youtu.be/U4bBzFqG9tM https://youtu.be/NfvWgfcTS04
Applebee’s burns Daylight reveals damage in Glen Ellen (3)
https://youtu.be/CC7dqX4o8Kk https://youtu.be/XfpoqoWaa8g
Fountaingrove burns at night (1 of 2) Gas leak, Journey’s End mobile home park
https://youtu.be/bhTGQL_tyZA https://youtu.be/HjSh_YsCEvg
Fountaingrove burns at night (2 of 2) Daylight reveals damage in Larkfield-Wikiup
https://youtu.be/KGjqDwE-YSg https://youtu.be/L6FlEDECyxw
House burns on San Miguel Road Damage to Cardinal Newman High School (1)
https://youtu.be/rcilikkIMQ0 https://youtu.be/UJvDItIg-Bo
Fountaingrove burns at day Damage to Cardinal Newman High School (2)
https://youtu.be/GxJGz9LNe3w https://youtu.be/17X8IcX7xOs

PHOTO GALLERIES PUBLISHED OCT. 9

24 images accompanied our main rolling up- 15 images accompanied our story on the ris-
date on the fire http://bit.ly/2Dlc0EX ing death toll http://bit.ly/2DNDEhX
52 images accompanied our story on people
returning to discover the damage in Coffey
Park http://bit.ly/2DSK6Rq

California Wildfires • 26 • The Press Democrat
BEST OF THE WEST: BREAKING NEWS REPORTING

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