Evacuating Wine Country Fires and How to Support

 Courtesy of Sandman Santa Rosa

Courtesy of Sandman Santa Rosa

A 3:30am Call in Santa Rosa

I woke up Monday morning at 3:30am to the landline ringing in my hotel room at Santa Rosa's Sandman hotel, a design-y, recently renovated nouveau motel downtown. I picked up after three rings and all within the next minute, maybe a minute and a half, I was told to 'evacuate and evacuate now because the fire was closest to your building', threw on pants/sweatshirt/shoes and grabbed what I could with one arm on the way out to the car. At some point during all of that I opened the front door to assess what was going on, and how big of danger we were in, and a huge billow of thick smoke blew right in, and along with it howls and screams and gusts of wind. 

Once we got downstairs and to our car, we followed another car leaving from the hotel lot as it made a right onto the main road. Because this was the first time I'd stayed in Santa Rosa I had no idea where I was or how to navigate. And because the entryway to the hotel was already in flames, and much more so the vegetation across the street, following someone who might know more than me was what my fight or flight mechanism deemed safest. Seeing we were driving into more fire - to the left and the right and raining from above, my fiance turned around to avoid driving into any larger fires that might lay ahead. At this time there was no news or emergency warnings distributed via mobile to say what this fire was or more importantly what to do and where to go. We were clueless and just trying to GTFO. 

On the other side of the street from the hotel property was a gas station, with a fire truck at one of the pumps and a very calm looking fireman next to the truck. We pulled in, I hopped out of the car (in my nightie/yoga pants/sweatshirt combo) and taking in his relaxed-despite-armageddon all around vibe, attempted to be super chill about the 'why is everything on fire and am I going to die in it?' thoughts swimming in my brain. 

He told us how to get to the freeway going south, where to go and all in such a calm way . We found the onramp, which was also on fire, plowed through the smoke and flames and booked it back home to San Francisco. All the way looking at flames to our left and listening to some super unprepared late night easy listening DJs on the radio try their best to share updates on what was happening. 

Despite the horror of evacuating without knowing what it was we were running from, where to go and where the fires were coming from, I lost nothing. The hotel I stayed at was spared, and the beyond gracious hoteliers have managed to return all of my belongings: phone, clothing, wine in the last couple of days.  I cannot imagine what it's like for those who went through this process to lose every.single.thing. The North Bay communities have been devastated, and continue to be ravaged, by these insane fires. 

So what can we all do? Short of getting a firefighting license or vet tech certificate, most of what these communities are asking for are donations. Cash, clothing, supplies. 

Here are some of my favorite organizations, and how to get involved:

Sweat to support in SF

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Sonoma SPCA x Well + Away ride at SoulCycle Castro
Many of the shelters in the Sonoma areas are taking in evacuated families, both those who have lost their home and those are waiting to find out if they still have one, but are unable to accept animals. Sonoma SPCA is temporarily housing so many of these evacuated animals, but also housing strays and treating those who have been burned in the fires. Join us for a Saturday afternoon ride with instructor Chris on October 21 at SoulCycle Castro in SF, all proceeds will benefit Sonoma SPCA. Sign up via Eventbrite

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MNTSTUDIO benefiting Napa Valley Community Foundation
MNT's studio director Carlie Long is a Napa Native with family throughout the Napa area. MNT is hosting a mat Pilates bootcamp class this Saturday, Oct 14, at 9am. Sign up via MindBody

Outside of the Bay Area

Make a donation in any amount to the following funds: