Monday, December 11, 2017

Coffey Park Fire

We are now in Napa, California.
A beautiful area.

On Sunday we went for an afternoon drive thru the beautiful countryside.

Making a large loop I planned a side trip to visit Coffey Park in Santa Rosa,
 a subdivision that was hard hit in the wildfires that hit this area in early October.

I had planned on doing a post on our whole days visitations, but after seeing
Coffey Park, it would be hard to sensitively combine that with anything else.

I knew that the fires were bad but nothing can prepare you for seeing the real thing.

The fire that roared thru here in the wee pre-dawn hours of Oct 9 arrived with
very little warning.

People went to bed - most not realizing that 15 miles away a small fire had started in the
mountains to the east and was growing by the second, racing towards them,
propelled by hurricane force winds, burning everything in its path.

While here we talked to some residents and heard their story.
Later I read more accounts of people leaping from their beds and escaping from their
homes surrounded by flames, leaving all behind.

One survivor described being pelted by flying balls of burning melted tar from roof shingles.
Cars and barbecue propane tanks exploding all around.  

Think of how things fly thru the air in a hurricane....
Then picture all of those things burning as they fly at you.

Most had only minutes of warning before the fire descended upon them.
Many did not make it out in time.

It looked like a war zone.

The  photo below is a google street view of what was the picture above.

Below - the street beyond the burned vehicle is the street in the photo above.
The burned vehicle would have been in a driveway on the right side of the picture.

Some vehicles were upside down.   It was explained to me that when some blew up,
that they actually were blown into the air and landed upside down.

An NBC arial photo of the devastation.

Google image

Google has updated the arial imagery.
I've circled the Coffee Park area, which is just a small part of the larger "Tubbs" Fire.

#1 on the Map is where all of my photos above were taken.

A Skateboarder took before and after photos of the neighborhood.

Google Image

Google Image

The photo below - #2 on the map - is one edge of the fire zone.

The house on the right is untouched yet to the left and for miles behind him is devastation.    

Over 1,000 homes in this neighborhood alone were destroyed.
Over 5,000 homes were lost and over 20 people lost their lives.

The people that we talked to and the stories that I read all had the familiar theme:
They expected fires up in the mountains and in forested areas....
but not in the center of town.

Some lots are now for sale.
Some will return and rebuild....  for some it's too painful.


  1. I'm absolutely blown away with your pictures and narrative. We all knew it was bad, but seeing it again and reading your comments somehow makes it worse. I'm at loss for words. Wow, wow, wow!!! And it's happening again for some in the Los Angeles area!

    1. What was even more amazing is that this fire started in Calistoga up in the north end of Napa Valley around 10pm. At one point the fire moved 12 miles in 4 hours. By early the next morning it was in Santa Rosa.

  2. thanks for the update on that area. So sad....

    1. Yes quite sad. The locals that we spoke with however showed some real spirit. "We can rebuild - Life is what matters" was a common refrain.

  3. My goodness! I can’t imagine loosing everything. I guess some are just thankful they are alive. Really puts things in perspective. We might go thru hard times, but I haven’t known that kind of devastation. So sad. Glad to hear some hadn’t lost thier joy. They must be some amazing people! I know Kate was crying! She so sensitive to others, that’s why I love her. Miss you guys & I hope we can talk again soon! Big hugs

  4. Greg,

    A great description of our town and the fires. My office was but a few hundred yards from the fire line in Mark Quest estates. The office and our home was saved but I had over 40 families that lost everything. Hundreds of cars and a few RV’s even in my small agency. It has been a rough few months but we’ll get through it. Sorry that Marilyn & I didn’t know you were in town, we would have enjoyed the visit. We’re heading to Nevada City tomorrow for a few days to see a great old mining town, dressed for the holidays. Ken

  5. t still brings me to tears as we ‘run errands’ in town. Our family and homes were safe. Many of our friends and clients were not so lucky. The spirit of our community has been forever changed. We are grateful to our first responders, our son in law among them, and all those that fought and saved our community. There is a message that began circulating soon after the fires began. It was ‘the love in the air is thicker than the smoke.’ I spent this evening with two friends who each lost their homes. They are moving forward, albeit still a bit ‘shell-shocked.’ The ripple effect of these fires is far reaching. Beyond lives and homes lost are businesses destroyed, children displaced from schools, jobs lost and more. We have a greater and more personal understanding of disasters and their victims. Through it all, I remain grateful. Thank you. Marilyn

  6. Seeing it on the news and then seeing it from your eyes are two very different experiences. Brought tears to my eyes and a deep sadness for all affected. Weather it be a flood from a hurricane or a fire so devastating it is unimaginable. My heart goes out to all.

  7. What an amazing set of photos only 100 miles or so from home, makes one really think about what could happer

  8. Somehow I missed this post earlier but am glad I happened to catch it albeit a bit late. Your photos are telling. Even though one sees it on television or reads about the devastation, one seemed to think all is fine somehow. A telling story of how long recovery will be and how very sad to know that these residents had their holidays totally disrupted with this tragedy. That is some beautiful land as well as hearts that will take a long time in fully healing.


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