North Bay fire storm update:
There are now at least 10 confirmed deaths due to myriad fires blazing throughout eight different North Bay counties through 70,000 acres, causing donors, volunteers and evacuees to take shelter at several local evacuation centers.
Sonoma County Sheriff’s office first confirmed seven fire related deaths around 4:30 p.m. Monday, however, the initial death toll rose after it was reported that two others died in the Atlas Fire near Napa, according to Cal Fire. The other death occurred in Mendocino County in the Redwood Valley Fire.
As Santa Rosa, Napa and Petaluma shelters get filled to capacity, many victims of the now deadly fire have turned to the Marin Veteran’s Memorial auditorium at the Marin Center in San Rafael.
One Geyserville family said they came to the Marin shelter since all other shelters closest to them were already at full capacity and fled with their dog Maddie in tow.
“We don’t know what is going on. We came here because everywhere else was full,” the family said, who also mentioned that before fleeing they sprayed down their roof in an attempt to protect their house from the flames.
However, they said despite their precautions, they were still concerned for their home and that it’s a possibility they will return to see their home in ashes.
“We don’t know what we’ll come back to,” the family said.
As of 12:30 p.m. the count of evacuees flocking to the center was around 315, according to Public Information Officer for Marin County, Laine Hendricks.
According to Hendricks the auditorium can hold up to 2,000 refugees but does not currently have sleeping accommodations. However, the Marin Humane Society is boarding pets for those who have evacuated from the Sonoma and Napa fires.
Evacuees were seen entering the shelter carrying bags of clothes, sleeping bags, Safeway bags with toiletries, water bottles and snacks. One little girl had her stuffed animal in hand while other families with children brought along soccer balls and coloring books as a form of distraction.
Nathalia Zabala, a senior at Sonoma Valley High School evacuated with her family to the San Rafael shelter after experiencing the strong smell of smoke, which she said was a health concern for her sister who has asthma.
Zabala described her surreal experience, “I went to sleep last night and I woke up around three a.m. to text messages from my friends telling me to get up and when I woke up the smoke was getting to our house. There wasn’t any fire in Sonoma and there wasn’t in Glen Ellen (at that point) but we decided to leave because my sister has asthma and the smoke was affecting her, so we met up with my whole family in Petaluma and came here.”
Zabala and 15 of her family members made it to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium to wait out the clouds of smoke, ash and fire.
When asked how long she and her family were planning on staying in the shelter, she said they were thinking of going back since she said they heard it was dying down a bit in Sonoma.
Amidst a steady stream of fire victims making their way to the San Rafael shelter, volunteers and locals were also seen around the area, trying to help out as best they could.
Amy Kattar, a Southern Marin resident from Fairfax, brought several larges bags to the evacuation center to try and offer some aid.
“We have toiletries, hygiene products, tampons, clothes and coloring books,” she said, referring to the bag of supplies her and friend were carrying. “We know people dealing with it (the fire) and my mom was born and raised in Napa. I feel helpless and I wanted to do something to help.”
Mark Chiang, also a Marin resident, said even though he didn’t personally know anyone affected by the fire, he still wanted to come by to the center to try and volunteer. “I want to volunteer my time,” Chieng said, who explained he wanted to offer help to those in need. While the Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium isn’t currently accepting walk-in volunteers, you can register to volunteer at volunteer.cvnl.org.
Zabala said of the whole experience, “I’ve never been through something like this.”
Other evacuation centers that are still open include:
Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Rd, Santa Rosa
Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris St, Sebastopol
Cloverdale Citrus Fair, 1 Citrus Fair Dr, Cloverdale
Sonoma Valley High School, 20000 Broadway, Sonoma
Analy High School Gym, 6950 Analy Ave, Sebastopol,
Healdsburg Community Center, 1157 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg
Church of Christ, 370 Sonoma Mountain Parkway, Petaluma
New Life Church, 1310 Clegg St, Petaluma
Cook Middle School, 2480 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa
Guerneville Veterans Hall, 16255 First St, Guerneville
Monte Rio School, 20700 Foothill Dr, Monte Rio
Windsor High School, 8695 Windsor Rd, Windsor
Casa Grande High School, 3333 Casa Grande Rd, Petaluma
Adobe Christian Church, 2875 Old Adobe Rd, Petaluma
Burton Recreation Center, 7421 Burton Ave, Rohnert Park
Calvary Chapel of Petaluma, 1955 S. McDowell Blvd, Petaluma
Sally Tomatoes, 1100 Valley House Dr, Rohnert Park
Novato United Methodist Church, 1473 S. Novato Blvd, Novato
Lighthouse Christian Church, 1915 Novato Blvd, Novato