SANTA ROSA (KPIX) — The crackle and occasional roar of fire down hillsides, leaving neighborhoods reduced to ash and chimneys is nothing new in wine country. Everyone, it seems has a story.
“The Tubbs fire was just a few blocks from our house the first time, then evacuated for Kincaid, then smoke in 2018? 19?, anyway it’s been rough,” says Valerie Lukens.
The endless months of watching for smoke and fire in the hills are wearing on the people who call the North Bay home. Valerie Lukens has raised three children in Santa Rosa and says she now goes on autopilot when red flag warnings hit.
“You start packing up your stuff and pulling out the right boxes, piling up what you need for your go bag and getting your cars gassed up, you don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just this mindless numb routine.”
Karen Wofford has lived in Santa Rosa 31 years with her husband and dog. She just bought an evacuation backup plan.
“I have an RV,” says Wofford. “It’s pretty bad when you have to buy a second home because you’re first home is so unreliable. So, I just bought an RV from a friend. It’s old – from back in the 90 s – but it’s a place where my husband and I and my dog can go somewhere else if we need to. It gives us a little more security. Feels good. Feels actually really good.”
For all the talk of Sonoma Strong, Wine Country Strong, the fatigue of the fires is real.
“We’re all okay, we’re resilient. We’re full of love and blessed with so much, but it just keeps hitting us. It’s like come on, alright, already – please,” said Julie Maher who lost her home in the Glass Fire.