Stephen Ellison

Community Meeting: Firefighters, Elected Officials Reassure Evacuees They're Doing All They Can

About 600 Sonoma County residents turned out Tuesday night in Santa Rosa for a meeting with congressional representatives and fire officials about what their future looks like.

Cal Fire and Santa Rosa fire officials told the gathering they're doing all they can to contain the raging wildfires that have consumed tens of thousands of acres in the North Bay.

Firefighters were greeted with a spontaneous standing ovation at the meeting, and Congressmen Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman vowed to fight for their fire-ravaged districts.

"We have never been taxed by a natural disaster to the extent we are being taxed right now," Thompson said.

The Santa Rosa fire Chief Anthony Gossner choked up as he talked about his crews being overwhelmed the first night of the fires.

"There was another house burning behind us, and in the end, I know not everyone but a lot of people lost a lot of houses," he said.

There were questions from victims about the cause of the fires, and a Cal Fire official said they simply don't know yet. And there were questions from evacuees about when they would be able to return home, and the official said it's a top priority.

Though there were few answers, residents took comfort in knowing fire crews were working around the clock, doing their best to contain the flames.

"I feel happy. I feel they're trying to protect us as much as they can," said resident Brittany Supachai of Santa Rosa.

Luz Navarrette of Healdsburg added: "They're talking about how these people are going to be relocated into their homes, and I'm talking with the people who don't have homes to go to."

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