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NorCal Fires: One Year Later

Josh Collins, Staff Writer

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On the morning of October 9th, 2017, smoke was the only thing that could be seen. Chaos had erupted over night, bringing with it the start of what would be known as one of the most destructive fires in California history: the Tubbs Fire. This disaster hit extremely close to home, destroying a little under 3,000 homes in the local city of Santa Rosa, leaving many without homes.

The Tubbs fire destroyed over 36,000 acres, costing many counties including Napa, Lake, and Sonoma country a whopping $1.3 billion dollars in total. Not only was there loss of property and surrounding acreage, many lost loved ones as well. An astounding 22 people died in these fires alone. The death total from all combined fires in California at the time was 42 people.

One majorly affected area in Santa Rosa, as many may recall, was Coffey Park. Thousands of houses were burned to the ground, forcing local residents to start anew. Many spirits were broken, not only due to the resident’s houses being burned down, but also because of the realization that the cost to rebuild would be a fortune. Decisions on whether to rebuild or not became dire, and the price for residency in Santa Rosa after the fires increased dramatically. Many fled to other areas not affected by the fires or left the Bay Area entirely. After the fires, the recent price for home sales remains at about $400,000 to $500,000.

Recently, however, the city of Santa Rosa has addressed this problem of affordable living head-on, with measures like Measure O and Measure N being on the November 2018 Ballot. Measure N tackles the problem of affordable housing. This measure would preserve houses for low-income families and others. Measure O would help the city by stabilizing Santa Rosa’s emergency funding with a slight and temporary increase in taxes. The tax will eventually expire after six years.

One year later, many are still recovering from these disastrous events. Houses are almost finished being rebuilt, businesses are reopening, and residents of the surrounding area are going back to normality. Analy student Grace Glynn-Wilson, 16, is one local who was affected by the fires. In an interview, she described the hardships her grandparents went through due to the fires. “Their Larkfield home of 42 years was completely destroyed by the devastating fires. They had no time to gather anything. They had lost everything… This past month they poured the foundation to their home. Life is starting to fall back 1 year later.”

Action towards discovering the cause of the fire has progressed since the fires, leading to a shocking discovery. According to Cal Fire reports, multiple fires at the time had been caused by “faulty PG&E power lines and utility equipment,” which then led to the disastrous fires. Legal action has been taken from multiple law firms and even the city of Santa Rosa.

These fires left a lasting mark on Sonoma county and the surrounding areas, but the locals are stronger than ever. Although recovery is far from over, there is a huge boom in support for the many residents of the surrounding areas. Legal action, like that of the many law firms affected by the fires, are being carried out against the perpetrators of the fires. Measures, like that of Measure N and Measure O, are on the November 2018 Santa Rosa Ballot in order to help those in need, and other examples of support for the community are shining brightly through all of the chaos the fires created. For more information on the 2018 Santa Rosa Ballet, go to www.srcity.org

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NorCal Fires: One Year Later