From the beginning of October to mid-November in the Santa Rosa and Napa counties, enormous fires left many homeless seeking shelters. 100 people were brought to the hospital from extreme burns or smoke inhalation.
The effects of the fire even reached Marin. Many students stayed home or left school early because the smoke was so thick, in fact, many schools including San Rafael High School and our very own Terra Linda High School canceled a school day to encourage students to stay inside away from the bad air quality.
A new student at TL, Emily VanGuilder, who moved here from Santa Rosa because her house burned down in the fires. Regarding her evacuation, she explained “My mom woke me up saying there was a fire. I lost everything I own except for my phone, passport, wallet, phone charger, what I was wearing, and my inhaler. My dog and the rest of my family were fine but my eleven chickens, my cat, and my six goats didn’t make it out in time.”
Unfortunately, 20,000 people were evacuated from the fourteen major fires burning all over the region, but Emily wasn’t one of those people. “Before we went to bed we smelled smoke but didn’t think much of it because we lived on the top of a hill so the smoke could’ve been coming from far away and we would’ve smelled it. We also looked at any news before sleeping but there were no evacuation warning or reports at the time.” Her thoughts as she was leaving the house were mostly of shock. “The car ride down the hill was terrifying. The smoke was so thick trying to get down the curvy road which made it much scarier. We also went through a wall of fire which made everyone in the car even more fearful for our lives. Once we had gotten out, we received great service from hotels, a lot of support from our family and were able to get back on our feet quickly. It could be worse.”
Sadly, Emily isn’t alone. These fires destroyed many homes and families all across the Napa and Santa Rosa area. 57,000 acres of land were destroyed and 1,500 houses burned down. Adding to that the loss of wild habitat, wild animals, and livestock. Throughout this experience, however, the entire Marin community came together to offer their support. Many churches and school gyms, including our very own, became evacuation centers to help people get back on their feet and numerous fundraisers were held to help raise money for the victims. You can show your support for the recovering victims by visiting these websites for more information.