As the sun rose on another day of battling wildfires in Northern California, smoke and haze filled the skies.
People are on the move in cars stuffed with belongings. They are either fleeing from a newly announced evacuation zone or returning to a neighborhood that may have been spared, trying to get back to their homes.
But they are also at the mercy of the wind.
Waiting and hoping
For four days, Daniel Montez, a resident of Sonoma, California, has waited at a roadblock hoping to be allowed to go to the property where he works and where his two cows, three calves, 25 goats, a horse and pony, and two llamas live.
“I just worry about the animals being safe,” said Montez, who has evacuated from his own home in Sonoma.
Throughout the Sonoma countryside, small fires are ever-present and, in many areas, continue to grow, threatening new areas, homes, buildings and lives.
On Thursday, authorities reported that the death toll from the massive Northern California fire continued to rise.
‘Different when it’s your home’
People in Sonoma have learned the difference between an advisory to evacuate and a mandatory evacuation. After first rushing out of her home, Kristi Zurauskas returned and chose to stay.
After seeing other disasters around the country, such as the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, Zurauskas had told herself, “I would leave. I would leave in a second.”
Now? “There’s something different when it’s your home,” she said.
A thank you
Dressed in a white bathrobe, Jesa Crawford was heading out of Sonoma for the fourth time, her car packed with her belongings.
At each police check, she was trying to hand out bottles of wine to firefighters and police to thank them for their hard work.
“If they don’t want to drink it here, if they want to bring it home to their families, it’s a huge, huge thank you for coming to save us,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, everything would be gone.”