Valley fire in Northern California rages as evacuees reflect on what they’ve lost – Los Angeles Times

As the Valley fire in Northern California continued its destructive path Tuesday, nearly 1,000 residents spent the night at the Napa County Fairgrounds under donated blankets and wearing donated clothes.

For some evacuees, the initial sense of relief of surviving the fire gave way to exhaustion, frustration and sadness over the homes, mementos and pets left behind. The massive blaze destroyed nearly 585 homes, forcing thousands of residents to flee.

Cheerleading coach Jill Vierra, 43, of Anderson Springs drove a van full of middle school cheerleaders to Fort Bragg on Saturday morning for a football game. As the squad prepared to take the field, Vierra saw a Facebook notification that wildfires were tearing toward her home.

The blaze swept through hours later, leaving wreckage that resembled a war zone. Her family lost five homes, and she assumes they lost four dogs, two birds and two cats. Only one dog, Zeus, a pit bull, survived.

Her minivan, parked on a field in the fairgrounds complex, still bore the evidence of tween spirit cut short: the moniker “Swaggin’ Wagon” and the names of the Calistoga Colts cheerleading squad scrawled on the windows in white and lavender shoe polish.

“We keep asking ourselves: What do we do?” Vierra said as she sat inside the van, wrapped in a blanket against the mist rising up on the fields. “What do we do if we don’t have anywhere to go?”

Residents who had the time bundled pets into carriers and kennels. Others hoped that police had time to move door to door, kicking doors and gates so dogs, chickens and horses left behind could flee.


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