Sonoma Fires


Map of the Oakmont Fire threatening Spring Lake, several miles to the east, at the Ledson Winery area. This is the fire activity on October 16th.

The fires around Sonoma County are frightening. The Ledson Winery,  the one I wrote about in The Art of Getting Lost in Sonoma, is standing dramatically against a backdrop of flames in the Oakmont Fire!  My mom’s apartment  is just two miles away from this fire and she has been under mandatory evacuation orders since October 9th, and she’s sick so I worry about her. Her neighbors at the retirement community were evacuated to the fairgrounds or to their family. We wait for the rain expected on Thursday to stop this madness…

Personal feelings aside… I am okay.  I housed my evacuated mom for a full week,  while watching ashes fall and breathing sickly orange air. Seeing the news, I am grateful to live outside of the zone and to have a safe house where she can go. The fire is effecting my whole community.

It makes one stop and think about the fragile nature of life: A hotel I has just stayed at the week before, The Fountaingrove Inn, is now burned to the ground. Restaurants I ate at recently, all gone. Everyone in Santa Rosa knows someone that has lost their house. At my mom’s apartment complex, there’s been cats locked in apartments and no one coming to feed them. For a minute driving by flames. Not knowing why and how it all started. This can’t be just a freakish accident because I saw flames at Sears Point as well.  Suspecting arson?

What would you Take?


Mom’s wooden gnome, hunkered down and waiting for the fires to end…

When I evacuated my mom, of course I first packed her clothes, her medicines, and her walker. Then I carried out all her photo albums. Finally,  I grabbed one of her two garden gnomes and threw him on top of her clothes. I had recently restored him and talked about him in this blog (see: Garden Gnomes: Stories of Restoration).  He now sits safely hunkered down in a corner of my room, waiting to go home.  Her larger gnome still stands guard at mom’s garden gate, waiting for her safe return…

On evacuation day, I also grabbed mom’s oldest antiques that she had brought to America in the 1950’s, including her wooden shoes and brass pots. I would have grabbed more but she kept saying, “Oh Irene that’s so unnecessary…” I guess she either thought her house will be fine, or else she could not grasp the magnitude of a forest fire coming. She has more faith than I. And yes, it is likely that her home will be fine now. But it stands in a small area near Spring Lake, that has become an oasis in the center of a fire zone, with fires burning on three sides. However looking at the massive devastation and the way the fires spark, I just have to wonder and to pray for rain!


Mom’s memorabila, wooden shoes and photo albums: A lifetime of memories…

Here is a video showing the flames licking the hills behind the Ledson Winery: CBSSanFrancisco

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