At the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California, Michelle and Carlos Jacinto sat in their car at the fairgrounds to eat lunch and take a break from their designated temporary evacuation center. They left their home in Forestville two nights ago, as wildfires tore through the state.
They packed up the car with their dogs, pictures and important papers. Michelle and Carlos had come to this evacuation center last year during the fires, but they said this time was different: they were required to wear masks and keep distant from other people in a gymnasium.
Barbara Pagett sat in the back of her friend Kevin Denny’s car with her cat in a carrier after arriving at a temporary evacuation center at the same fairgrounds. They had just found out the site was open after having spent two days as evacuees. After they evacuated the first night and found the Petaluma evacuation center was closed, they were forced to spend $300 for two nights at a hotel.
Dennis O’Leary and his wife, Patricia, set up their sleeping bags in a park in Forestville, where they would spend their second night after evacuating from Guerneville.
“We didn’t want to end up in a crowded place and didn’t want to go too far from where we live and thought we could stay in this park. Everyone in Forestville has been really understanding, and they opened the park bathrooms for us and all the restaurants are close for resources if we need.”
Katherine Champion and her friend Chris Dawson sat at the parking lot in Forestville after evacuating from their home in Rio Nido and contemplated where to go next. Katherine said her dad had called her and said she needed to evacuate since she had been waiting the fire out for two days. Tonight she said they would sleep at a friend’s house and hopefully not get moved.
Whitney Millstone sat with her partner, Wes Colunga, and her dad, Jason Millstone, at the Forestville parking lot after fleeing their home in Guerneville. A helicopter had flown over their house and announced over the intercom that they needed to leave immediately.
Whitney said: “It’s one of those moments where you’re sitting here and you’re like, ‘What else can happen in the midst of this pandemic?’ I could lose my job, I could lose everything.”
Jim Laughlin and his friend and neighbor Jean-Pierre sat outside in a community park listening to wildfire updates on the radio in Forestville, where they had slept the night before in their truck after evacuating from Guerneville.
Emely Jeanpierre folded and organized her clothes and belongings at a designated temporary evacuation zone after evacuating from the campsite where she lived on the Russian River for 12 years. Emely evacuated on Wednesday evening as mandatory orders were called in her area. In a rush, she had to bring her boats out of the water, get food for her cat and dog, pack up all her things and get out of Guerneville as quickly as possible.
Pat Spiva sat in her car in Forestville deciding where to go next after she evacuated on Tuesday from her home in the area. Her dog is sick and she needs to stay in her car to take care of him.
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