California

6 Months Later: Remembering Those Lost in the North Bay Fires

More than 8,000 structures across Northern California's wine country were wiped out by the fires, hundreds of thousands of acres were scorched and 44 people were killed

Six months ago Sunday, a wind-whipped firestorm ignited in Northern California. Over the course of the following weeks, flames from simultaneously-burning blazes stretched across multiple counties, leveling neighborhoods and leaving behind dozens of lives lost.

More than 8,000 structures across Northern California's wine country were wiped out by the fires, hundreds of thousands of acres were scorched and 44 people were killed as a result of the blazes.

[NATL-BAY GALLERY]North Bay Wildfires: The Smoldering Aftermath

The Tubbs Fire — labeled by Cal Fire as the most destructive wildfire in California history — ignited around 9:45 p.m. on Oct. 8. It would go on to burn 36,807 acres and destroy 5,636 structures across Napa and Sonoma Counties, according to Cal Fire.

The Nuns Fire, which also torched land across Napa and Sonoma counties, left 56,556 charred acres in its path, according to Cal Fire. It destroyed 1,355 structures and damaged 172.

Missing Attachment Roughly six months since the North Bay fires ignited, state lawmakers are making sure folks are prepared in the event that another similar disaster were to strike. Pete Suratos reports.

Minutes before the Nuns Fire ignited, the Atlas Fire erupted near Atlas Peak Road south of Lake Berryessa. It would go on to torch 51,624 acres, destroy 120 structures and damage 783 more in Napa and Solano counties, according to Cal Fire.

In Sonoma County, the Pocket Fire, which started early in the morning on Oct. 9, scorched 17,357 acres, destroyed six structures and left two damaged, according to Cal Fire.

Missing Attachment Footage captured by NBC Bay Area’s SkyRanger depicts the widespread devastation caused by wind-driven wildfires that quickly spread across the North Bay. 

One Napa County couple who were surrounded by flames believes they were given a second chance at life. They survived and say it has changed their whole outlook on how they live their lives.

Linda Savoie and her husband Dr. Philip Dayan were determined to stay alive even though they knew the odds were against them.

"That’s all I could think about, is that one of us has to make it out of here tonight, so that our kids aren’t alone," Savoie said. "It was becoming very clear to us that no natter where we went, the fire was either near us or catching up to us."

The couple was rescued by a CHP helicopter crew that spotted their vehicle's headlights through the heavy flames and smoke.

A drone captured stunning video of the widespread damage in Santa Rosa, California, after a wildfire ripped through residential neighborhoods, shopping centers and commercial areas.

Six months later, the burn marks are still visible, a constant reminder of their daring escape from the massive fire that could have ended their lives. And a night that still haunts them.

"I can’t hear wind or smell smoke without everything coming back," Savoie said. "So, even though it's been six months, it’s still a little fresh."

The couple says the whole experience has changed their lives, forcing them to reprioritize what’s important. Like family.

"I look at my children and my wife differently," Dayan said. "In such a way that I realize I may never see them again. It’s very important that I do that. It’s just a part of who we are now."

This time lapse video shows the devastation left behind by the wildfires that tore through the Fountaingrove and Coffey Park neighborhoods.

The couple says they are extremely thankful to the first responders, people who they called strangers who risked their lives to save them.

The same CHP helicopter team was able to rescue 46 people in all. Dahan and Savoie said they will always owe the team a debt of gratitude.

Farther north, the Redwood Valley Fire in Mendocino County burned 36,523 acres, destroying 546 structures and damaging 44 more in the process, according to Cal Fire.

The much smaller — in terms of acreage — Sulphur Fire in Lake County burned 2,207 acres but still wiped out 162 structures and damaged eight others.

Deady wildfires in Napa and Sonoma counties sent residents fleeing for their lives and reduced dozens of homes to smoldering ash. At least 1,500 total structures have been torched, and fire officials say that estimate is conservative. #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
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