We wake up a week ago to a massacre in Las Vegas with a demented gunman mowing down hundreds of people from a luxury hotel suite. Knowledgeable people described it as a killing box (zone). Now the authorities are saying it’s likely we will never know what motivated the shooter.
Then this Monday, we awaken to horrific wildfires in Sonoma and Napa counties. Landmarks that I know well in Santa Rosa are rubble. Homes near the Silverado Resort and Spa are leveled. The PGA Tour had just celebrated the opening of its 2017-18 season with the Safeway Open that concluded just a few hours before the fire broke out. The extent of damage to homes in the Silverado complex could not be determined, but, the fact that the winery across the road was damaged, speaks to the ravages of the fire that blew through.
For those of us who witnessed the Oakland hill fire in 1991, it was similar, but stunningly different. The Oakland hills tragedy took place after a small fire that was seemingly contained roared to life in strong, dry winds the next day.
The fires Sunday night took people by surprise—for the ferocity of the winds. KTVU meteorologist Bill Martin described the firestorm that blew over from Calistoga to the Fountain Grove neighborhood of Santa Rosa as a blow torch---propelled by 68 mph winds. There’s no stopping a firestorm with winds of that magnitude propelling it. For perspective, consider it’s a hurricane at with winds of 74 mph.
And what’s different is that the fire was driven down the mountains and hills instead of upslope.
For those of us in Northern California, it’s a 1-2 gut punch coming after the national issues with the hurricanes across the southern coast and in the Caribbean.
These are most challenging times. If you have the resources, give to the Red Cross which provides the immediate support to fire evacuees. For longer term, if you are capable, look to volunteer. Franklin Graham, who leads Samaritan’s Purse that provides immediate and long-term disaster relief, has said his organization could use 1,000 volunteers a day in the Houston area alone.
The challenge in the North Bay will be different. Presumably, most of the burned homes and businesses were insured and there will be resources to rebuild. The challenge will be to find the skilled construction workers, in an area that already is short of that talent, to rebuild the homes. There also may be a challenge with construction materials.
For those of faith, pray. God will have his answers and open the doors to help people.