Santa Rosa fire: How a sudden firestorm obliterated a city


Sandy Champie surveys the destruction of her mother's home, behind her, one that she grew up in, on Aaron Drive, in Santa Rosa, Calif. on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. Her parents purchased the home in the 1970s. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

SANTA ROSA —The inferno swept up over a wooded ridge, like many California wildfires do, but this one was different.

Like a terror in the night, this wall of wind-whipped flames took direct aim for the heart of a city, not just the rural outskirts, not just the homes high in the hills or off the grid. the Tubbs fire — one of 14 wildfires that scarred the people and property of eight Northern California counties late Sunday and early Monday — incinerated dozens of city blocks in Santa Rosa, destroying so many of the trappings of suburban life; from the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country and Fountaingrove Inn to a technology park, from Applebee’s and Arby’s to Kmart and Kohl’s.

Sandy Champie surveys the destruction of her mother’s home, behind her, one that she grew up in, on Aaron Drive, in Santa Rosa, Calif. on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. Her parents purchased the home in the 1970s. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

The fire skipped across Highway 101, obliterating the heart of neighborhoods too.

“These fires happen in the hills, in the rural area, not a neighborhood,” said David Kay, 54, clearly stunned as he returned to his home in the Coffey Park neighborhood Monday morning and found nothing but rubble for blocks and blocks. “You think you’re safe in a neighborhood.”

In one of the most surreal scenes, broadcast on KGO TV, a team of Kaiser Permanente nurses and doctors, faces covered by respirators, gently raced critical patients in hospital beds down the street, with bright orange flames in the background. About 130 patients were safely evacuated in three hours, including women in labor and a “very sick” child. Some hospital employees drove patients in their own cars.

Hospital employees flee with a patient from the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Santa Rosa …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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