California Fires

My daughter lives in Santa Rosa CA. I’ve written in the past about the fires that swept through there and destroyed thousands of homes and buildings. There have been many pictures in the media but they can’t have the same impact as seeing the damage in person. It goes on for blocks and blocks, miles and miles. There is one area where the fire jumped a four lane highway with frontage roads in either side. The winds were that strong. I was quite aware also that the places I saw, not everyone made it out.

Thankfully my daughter’s house and the house of her in laws are fine, but everyone in town knows so many people who lost everything. The hotels are full, and places to rent or buy are very hard to find and expensive. My daughter works for the county and is part of the group working with the displaced people.  They are arranging for FEMA trailers, looking for any other available housing options, and coordinating efforts to help with the multiple needs of so many people. It’s such a huge task though.

But, there are positive things happening too. There has been a huge outpouring of support from friends, the community, and others near and far. Police, firefighters, and others came by the thousands to fight the fires and help people. Now, a month later, there are multiple crews working 24/7 on cleanup in preparation for rebuilding. We even saw them working on Thanksgiving Day. Many of the affected people are working class families though, and the city hopes they don’t lose too many of these people who are vital to the community. Even my daughter said if they came back from evacuation to nothing, they would keep on driving and relocate elsewhere.

Here are a few pictures I took, in no particular order.

This is only one of many disasters – hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands, fires in other areas, and as we speak fires are raging in Southern California destroying more homes and buildings. We won’t even get into the man made disasters.

I’m so thankful to be here for so many reasons. We have brush fires in the dry summer but I’ve never seen a burned house. Maybe the fires happen enough that there isn’t much to burn, and a block house with a metal roof isn’t easy to burn. (But the CA fire burned a fire proof fire station to the ground so nothing is guaranteed, apparently). But in my experience here things burn themselves out fairly quickly. People keep their yards free of burnable material and protect the perimeter with a garden hose if necessary. If/when the firemen come they put water tanks on their backs with squirt nozzles and wet the perimeter.

An old photo from a fire in our area, a fireman at work

I know there is always someone else who’ll has it worse, and there is so much worse suffering in the world. These people will get through this and rebuild their lives. Still though, it sucks to lose your home and everything it contains, maybe your job if your place of business burned, and then find yourself living in a FEMA trailer for months and months, maybe years.


About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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11 Responses to California Fires

  1. Thanks for the report, Kris; I was wondering if you’d have updates about the fires… Here, of course, we’re still viewing the effects of the earthquake – it takes a long long time to recover from natural disasters, which seem to be imprinted on those who lived thru them….


  2. I am with Lisa, thanks for the update. I have been so worried about my friends in CA. I cannot fathom the destruction. So very sad.


  3. Sunni Morris says:

    I lived in CA for 25 years so am used to the fires every year and the Santa Ana winds that make things much worse. We came close to evacuation once, but luckily we never had to. The air was smoky for weeks and I’ve had friends evacuated from different places. Of course I still have many friends there so am hoping all of them stay safe. It’s an awful thing to lose your home and all your possessions. I’m sure many of these people will be displaced for quite a long while. I really hope they can get things under control soon and that lives can be saved. I heard on the news tonight that many horses and other animals have perished and one woman has died in the fire so far.


    • I know there seem to be fires every year, but fires destroying large parts of a city? I never expected that. It’s raining again in northern CA but things still sound very bad in the south.


  4. jim and nena says:

    Hola Kris,
    The fires are ongoing. I have a friend in Carpinteria who escaped a fire in that area just 2 days ago. I’m with your daughter, if one must rebuild everything, start somewhere else. Each year the fires seem worse out there.


    • They love where they live and work, and the in laws just moved there to be close so I’m glad they didn’t leave. But I can see the appeal. I’d rather relocate than live in a trailer with two little kids for the long time it’s going to take to rebuild.


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