By Don Ford

SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — Apart from wildfires, residents in one Santa Rosa neighborhood are dealing with another crisis: it could be weeks before people have access to  safe drinking water.

The flames were coming over a ridge when a group of men, led by a retired Cal Fire firefighter, saved more than 35 homes in the Stonegate neighborhood on Brand Road just off Hwy 12. They held off the flames until a full strike team arrived to take over.

What they could not save was the water well pump and holding tank at the top of the hill which supplied water to the entire subdivision. It was all destroyed and must be now replaced.

Stonegate resident Lisa Sevilla says the loss of the pump and holding tank has left the area with no running water.

“We’re relying on the Red Cross to bring us water. And one of our good neighbors also brought in some water tanks and has offered us water also,” explained Sevilla.

All of the houses are rentals leased by the same company, Moon Valley Properties. A company representative told KPIX by phone that they are doing the best they can to fix the water situation, but it us complicated.

“Moon Valley has been working diligently with the California Water Resources board, Sonoma County Water Board, the city of Santa Rosa, PG&E and our well service company to restore water service to our units so tenants can return home,” the company said in a statement.

But some residents are not waiting to return. Many have no other place to go. They are getting by best as they can.

Sevilla was starting to explain that the home still have power, when suddenly a large truck transporting a tank filled with 3,400 gallons of water appeared on the street, heading up to the burned out well.

Sevilla said it was the first one she’s seen.

Once on top, the water was emptied into the open cistern. The water isn’t intended for drinking. Instead, it’s for flushing the lines that need testing before being approved for use with drinking.

Meanwhile, notices are posted warning residents if water comes out of the tap at all, it’s not safe to drink, even if boiled.

“Everybody is really frustrated. To be evacuated for 10 days and then to come home and have no water? None?” asked Sevilla.

Moon Valley Properties said it may be two more weeks before the water is declared safe to drink, adding that no rent will be charged to the tenants until the water service is restored.

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