A letter from Bodega Bay, fires in Sonoma

A letter from Bodega Bay
from Bob English

Bodega Bay is in Sonoma County, at the edge of a region devastated by forest fires in Northern California. Here is a letter from Bob English, a person who lives there. It was written to friends who asked him how he was doing. I'm posting it here with Bob's permission.

Bodega Bay, California
October 11, 2017

Hey Stan and Dave,

Thanks for thinking of us. There is much to report, although overall so heartbreaking, depressing it's hard to write anything. Anyway, can't tell you much more about the multiple fires status, waste and human-animal-earth losses than you see on the news - or explain why/how there's still zero 0% containment reported for all proliferating fires over 6-7 counties, with the Fall wind/whether conditions and all local fire fighter resources mobilized but over-extended, in contrast with the minimal, slo-mo, for show national/fed response, like Puerto Rico we're on our own.

As Californians for life we've seen nothing close to this, although the Oakland hills firestorm 1991 was bad enough. And we've been personally concerned with Puerto Rico as Linda's brother and his wife live there with grandchild visiting, waiting for a flight out, and Austin's girlfriend's mother return delayed.

Of course we're safe, fine and fortunate to be living on the Sonoma coast, Bodega Bay where indeed many folks are fleeing from the fire, yes camping on Doran Beach regional park, also families staying at an evacuation center set up at The Grange a quarter mile down the road (where we delivered a tent, pillows and blankets), a few in campers and cars parked across from us off Hwy 1, others able to rent summer homes. We had clear air earlier today after fog-like smoke and red sun Monday (and lighter high smoke yesterday), but the smoke is returning this late afternoon with north-east inland winds picking up and driving wildfires as reported.

As you know the Plutos in power decided this is the perfect time to announce an end of Obama EPA clean power regs, and last night on PBS News a coal industry honcho informed us that "4000 scientists" (how many on his payroll?) tell him the earth has been cooling for the last 19 years, the Antarctic ice mass is increasing and CO2 is not a pollutant, and so what America (to be Great Again) really needs is not costly wind and solar but so cheap coal energy. These fuckers have to go, no joke, as always it's up to us.

May send updates. Be good. Peace, love.


Bodega Bay, California

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October 14, 2017

Some added info and commentary, from our perspective on the periphery. Again, highlights and selected details are changing constantly/daily, difficult to write about or complete, and assume you’re following some of the varied coverage. We have extensive local Bay Area news (e.g. SR Press Democrat, SF Chronicle, CBS/KPIX Ch 5) and see national TV segments (PBS News, Democracy Now!), although we’re told the story is minimized in east coast papers, buried without much detail in back pages.

I wrote "Like Puerto Rico, we're on our own,” meaning the feds and Plutos are taking better care of Texas and southern states hit by hurricanes, sending thousands more men and women to Afghanistan, but so far no fire fighting army as needed for California, and comparatively little relief funding, only $1 billion allocated/added to the 19 B hurricane package.

By Friday however, some sense of movement, more help, attention and concentrated resources: augmented air drops, fire fighters and equipment coming from western states and finally some partial/minimal wildfire containments reported.

After waking to fog-like smoke and a red sun Monday morning, we've had relatively clear, healthy air here on the coast; however, with high smoky skies to the south, as north-east inland winds pick up, driving the wildfires - and return of the intense gusty winds that generated them are expected Friday night through the weekend. Staying inside again today Saturday to avoid Inhaling smoke.

As reported from Monday, whole neighborhoods burnt out in north Santa Rosa, including a trailer park and working class subdivision Coffey Park, also many businesses and affluent hillside homes in Mark West and Fountain Grove (where some of our medical buildings are located), notably Jean Schultz’s home (Charles Schultz's widow, but not the Schultz Museum downtown). Our close friends Jack and Diane Wikse decided to leave their home off Bennett Valley Rd early Monday AM, and we think their neighborhood is still OK.

From Wednesday, Calistoga and parts of the town of Sonoma, then Geyserville, Healdsburg and other communities are evacuated, and some surviving areas may be in danger again. Over 400 people listed "missing," likely a high portion older and other folks who couldn't make it out. In short (as repeated on local TV news), it's getting worse before better; an extended, growing crisis and struggle, at least for another week, rain showers forecast for next Thursday.

Besides global climate instability as a primary factor in this tragedy, there’s the factor or end game of opposing movements to preserve or develop Sonoma county as open space paradise; agricultural, diary and old wine country vs. residential, commercial and tourist "growth.” The same sad story as Napa wine country - and same game that played out so poorly in our District 5 Supervisor election (as we reported to some of you, the insider money and pro-development powers behind Linda Hopkins won; we progressives think the coast, the environment lost with Noreen Evans). The attraction but waiting danger of living in lovely wooded areas, rolling green-brown grassy hills, farms and coast (add the San Andreas fault), previously well spaced and environmentally separated, but obviously without enough limits on housing developments, urban sprawl, Big Wine palaces, parties, buses and traffic.

What we saw in Bodega Bay and the idyllic Sonoma coast, countryside, autumn vine leaves and Mediterranean climate as the perfect place to retire, maybe becoming illusionary or a tourist cliche?? While some of the enchantment wears off for this guy, still one of the world's remaining wonderful places.

Bob and Linda

Bodega Bay, California

forest fires
The situation in Sonoma County of Northern California