Northern California in ashes


Officer Shante Williams

An abandoned car was destroyed gale-force winds of fire in a town near Santa Rosa, California. "Cars and buildings alike were ravaged by what can only be described as fire tornadoes," said SFPD Officer Williams.

Megan McFarland, Staff Writer

A confirmed forty-two people have died in a series of northern California wildfires that have been blazing since the beginning of October. Those killed were from Sonoma County, Mendocino County and Napa County.

Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Oct. 9, placing several counties under mandatory evacuation and requested national help. “This is truly one of the greatest tragedies California has ever faced,” he said.

Relief was approved by President Donald Trump on Oct. 10 “The federal government will stand with people of California and be there with you in this time of terrible tragedy and need,” said the President.

Law enforcement from surrounding areas have stepped up to help out. San Francisco Police Department officer, Shante Williams, was one of the many officers sent to the fire sites to lend a helping hand. SFPD has sent 20 officers, around the clock, for two weeks to patrol for looters and keep things under control.

According to the National Guard Bureau, the U.S. National Guard sent out three medevac helicopters and 100 military police officers to combat the fires after Trump’s approval.

Officer Shante Williams
The U.S. National Guard sent out three medevac helicopters after Trump’s approval to evacuate citizens in dire need of assistance.

Michael Turner, a 22-year-old Saint Helena resident, witnessed the destruction of these fires firsthand. He and his roommate evacuated on Monday, Oct. 9, and were housed by Turner’s employer for the week. During his stay, he heard many stories from victim’s that were left “with only the clothes on their backs.”

Fortunately, Turner returned to an unharmed home; it was just 4 miles short of the fires’ destruction line. “I was so relieved to go home. I’m just grateful that my biggest worry is the fact that vegetable garden died,” said Turner, “from all the ash and heat. Others have literally lost it all.”

An estimated 57,000 structures and over 220,000 acres across the state have been scorched beyond recognition, according to officer Shante Williams, including entire communities of homes, workplaces, and farms.

People from hundreds of miles away, even states away, have donated food, clothing, and shelter for victims. “It’s mind-blowing to see that kind of communal response at times like these,” Officer Williams said.