’Looks Like a War Zone’: Santa Rosa Neighborhood Destroyed in Wildfires

More than 1,100 home were destroyed the night the fire swallowed Coffey Park. Thirty-thousand people evacuated, and a day later all that was left was dust. Broken glass from cars dot the street, and molten plastic trash cans spill over on the sidewalk.

21 photos
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
","id":"3477721","thumbnail_url":"https://nbcots.go-vip.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/IMG_77301.jpg?fit=4000%2C2672","type":"image","focusedSlide":""},{"caption":"“We’re one of the houses that survived,” the couple, who identified themselves as Jayme and Nancy Bollinger, said. “You look at this devastation, and you feel survivor’s guilt.”
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
“You would never think this would happen here,” Jayme Bollinger said. “I was talking to the firemen, and they said, that the fire just came through the green lawns, and the drought resistant plants and the concrete like a monster. It’s evil at its worst.”
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
“When we did get to an intersection, the officer was just waving cars through. When we asked, which way do we go, he said, ‘I don’t care, just get out," Nancy Bollinger said.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
Metal lawn furniture that survived the fire.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
All that remains of Coffey Park is row after row of charred houses, cars and boats.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
A Coffey Park resident walks her dogs on Thursday evening through deserted neighborhood streets.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
Aluminum from burned car rims streak the sidewalk like some alien life form, glinting in the evening sun.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
Residents said they can't recognize some of the streets. This sign-post is all that's remaining on Mocha Lane.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
A few blocks down, we came across Hugo and Patty Aguirre, whose house was the first in a block that made it. “It looks like a nuclear explosion, everything is ash,” Hugo Aguirre said. “If you look at pictures of Hiroshima and you look at this, it’s identical.”
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
“It was a very nice, middle class neighborhood." Hugo Augirre said. "This was a very close-knit community. We probably are never going to see our neighbors again. It’s just too much.”
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
The Aguirres evacuated to the airport Sunday night. When they came back the next morning around 7 a.m., the firefighters were trying to save their house. “We couldn’t believe our house was still standing,” Patty Aguirre said. “We told them, ‘Please save our house!’”
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
Firefighters had to sacrifice the house next door to save the Aguirre’s house.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
The rose bush next to the Aguirre's house survived.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
All the garage doors are twisted into heaps.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
The Aguirres said most of the houses on their block went for $600,000 to $700,000. About 40 to 80 houses might have survived, they said, but there’s no official count.
16/21
Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
“I was talking to the firemen, and they said, that the fire just came through the green lawns, and the drought resistant plants and the concrete like a monster. It’s evil at its worst," Jayme Bollinger said.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
A poster glued to a pole on a sidewalk.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
Some of the firemen the Aguirres talked to said that five to six houses would be engulfed in flames at the same time. “And they would just go up in flames in 15 to 20 minutes – poof – the wind was so strong,” Patty Aguirre said.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
Residents are worried about what impact the wildfires will have on the regions tourism industry. One of the area’s main hotels, The Hilton Sonoma, was grazed to the ground.
20/21
Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
A beautiful little park and picnic tables – now decimated to dust.
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Riya Bhattacharjee/NBC Bay Area
“It’s bitter-sweet, you feel glad your house survived, but then you feel emotion for all your friends:" Patty and Hugo Aguirre.
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