NAPA (CBS SF) — When the phone rang at Jesus Torres rural Napa home in the early Monday, he had no idea the nightmare that was beginning to unfold.
“Our neighbor called and told us the sheriff had come — we had to evacuate now,” he said.
Torres home was on Wild Horse Valley Road and the Atlas Peak fire was roaring toward his neighborhood.
“We gathered up a few of our things and our pets and headed out to our car,” he said. “We could see the sky was turning red…We didn’t know (about the fire) until the last second. There was smoke all over the area.”
Torres and his wife were at one of the Napa Valley evacuation centers. The minutes had turned into hours as his concern mounted. One question raced through his mind — would he have a home to return to?
“There’s just a whole lot anxiety and uncertainly,” he said with his voice cracking with emotion.
Marlene Rosenberg has lived near the Silverado County Club since 1975. She and her husband were getting ready to evacuate early Monday when a fireman told them it was time to go.
“There power was out so we had to raise our garage door by hand,” she said. “When we pulled up the door, there was a fireman standing there. He said you go to go now.”
Marian Williams lives in the small Sonoma County town of Kenwood. She caravanned with neighbors through flames before dawn as one of the wildfires reached the vineyards and ridges near her home.
“It was an inferno like you’ve never seen before,” Williams told the Associated Press. “Trees were on fire like torches.”
Fellow Kenwood resident John Dean was driving home early Monday when he saw the flames.
“I looked over and saw a house on fire,” he said. “I mean blazing, falling down on fire.”
Glen Ellen resident Dave Larsen returned to the neighborhood where his home burned down early Monday afternoon looking for two pet cats that were unaccounted for.
“It was happening so quick. There were 50-foot flames right behind my house. I could hear and feel the heat within minutes,” Larsen said. “There was no time to grab anything.”
Though he was rushing to escape the flames, Larsen also looked out for his neighbor who lived up the street.
“I knew that she was unable to drive right now and she was by herself,” explained Larsen. “I knew I needed to get her somewhere safe with some family and friends.”
Another Glen Ellen resident, Michael Everidge, found not just his home burned to the ground.
He told KPIX 5 that his mother — who owned a handful of homes steps away — lost it all too.
“Knowing my Mom’s going to come home to this,” said Everidge. “And all she has was what she could throw in the back of the car to evacuate. She’s eighty.”
They only had minutes to get out before the flames consumed the home.
The city of Santa Rosa warned residents in areas evacuated because of the large fire today not to return home until they are notified.
“The fire is not contained — no area has been determined clear and safe at this point,” city officials said.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said the following areas are now under mandatory evacuation:
Rincon Valley north of Montecito Boulevard toward Brush Creek Road, Oakmont, the Sonoma Developmental Center and Mission Highland, Norrbom Road, and Gehricke Road in Sonoma.
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