Elders were vulnerable in firestorms

  • [photos by Jeff Zimmerman]

    [photos by Jeff Zimmerman]

Unable to evacuate, death toll among those over 65 in Napa / Sonoma raises questions

By Jeff Zimmerman, Neenach

[Editors note: Jeff Zimmerman is a retired fire captain who spent his career studying and fighting fires. Now he covers them as an award-winning news photographer. He and his wife chose to build their retirement home and a firefighting museum in a quiet West Antelope Valley town of 800 people where he tends a garden and lives off the grid. This is his account of the horrifying fires of last week ]

Fires were breaking out on both ends of the state Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 9 and 10. I drove south to see strong Santa Ana winds push fires into Orange County neighborhoods along the 91 and 241 freeways.

Right before my eyes, the fire jumped the 241 toll road to run directly into…(please see below to view full stories and photographs)

Photo captions:

This wheelchair in the front yard of one of 5,700 destroyed homes in the Napa Valley illustrates that elders unable to evacuate quickly and unable to drive were the first victims of massive firestorms this month. Fire season threatens our entire state, including our area.

Above: Power lines fell over, trapping many trying to escape. Some ran barefoot through the fire in pajamas to get away when cars couldn’t get through. Below: an eerie sculpture emerges from a fountain, surrounded by fields of ashes.

Doors flung open by escaping passengers welded in place by the intense 1400 degree heat of the fire

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This is part of the October 20, 2017 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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