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Californians Return To Rubble AFter Massive Wildfires: “It’s Like He’s Really Gone Now”

“I’m still not sure if some of my neighbors made it out. There’s a few still missing.”

As of Thursday, 31 people, nearly half in the Santa Rosa area, had died since the group of more than 20 wildfires started tearing across Northern California’s still-parched farmland, wineries, and cities overnight Sunday. The already-historic death toll is expected to continue to climb, with nearly 400 people still reported missing in Sonoma County as of Thursday, Sheriff Rob Giordano said.

She ran around her home of six years, reaching for everything her daughter might need, forgetting her own wedding album and favorite earrings. “There’s no rhyme or reason to what you grab.”

Kicking around some newly donated fuzzy blue slippers at the massive shelter that’s taken over the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 65-year-old Deah Winter said she saw flames a few blocks away and yelled out her door.

Dozens of people relayed their harrowing escapes, each one remarking how the fire moved so fast that emergency crews couldn’t send out alerts fast enough. Many only got out because frantic neighbors were banging on their doors, half-dressed and clutching clawing pets.

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