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Ken Wornick | Six days of fire in Sonoma

Ken Wornick | Six days of fire in Sonoma

Everyone in Sonoma has a story to tell about their experience with the 2017 firestorm. Here is ours…

Monday, October 8th, around 1:30am, friends visiting from Indiana were staying in another room when they awoke to see fire out of their guest room window. They ran over to our bedroom window and pounded furiously. In a matter of minutes, we were all up, dressed, and formulating plans. This was the view from our backyard in the very first minutes of the firestorm:

We should have been evacuated, but the systems for determining evacuation were not in place for a couple more days…

As the sun rose that morning, we found ourselves in a total news blackout. The fires had just started all over the Sonoma and Napa wine country. The fire was so fast and hot, there wasn’t really any time for first responders to address it. By the time a command-and-control center was in place, the first responders concerned themselves primarily with life safety, mostly in Santa Rosa. So for the first 48 hours of the fire, we never heard a siren, or saw a fireman or a firetruck. We rushed to fill our cars with all the family photos and our computers, opened the garage doors manually, and parked the cars facing the street ready for a quick getaway if the fires jumped onto the ranch.

 

The fire raged across all of Arrowhead Mountain at the southern end of the Sonoma/Napa County line. Power went out in the first few hours of the firestorm. On rural properties like ours, and our Hyde Burndale neighbors, that meant no water (water wells became non-functioning and therefore no water pressure to the hoses), no septic (and therefore no toilets), no phone or internet and therefore no news.  And our cell phones – the only way to stay connected to the outside world – quickly ran out of charge as texts and calls accelerated. This is a good note of caution in the case of earthquakes too.  We charged our phones in the car with the engines running, and that’s how we kept up with the news. This was the view on the morning of day 1:

 David Wells | October 9, 2:17am Window Views

David Wells | October 9, 2:17am Window Views