Fires engulf Napa, Sonoma and other surrounding counties

Over 20 fires have burned nearly 200 thousand acres across Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties of Northern California. These fires started late Sunday night. Schools, houses and electricity have been lost in these fires, leaving many families forced to evacuate their homes.

The death toll has risen to 36 people, according to the SF Gate, with over 200 people still missing. The fire is 10 percent contained as of Friday.

Morgan Olhiser, a junior public relation major, is from the city of Santa Rosa and talked about how her family has lost everything.

“My family was directly affected by the fire as it took both my family home and my aunt and uncle’s home across town. We have countless friends and other family members who were forced to evacuate as well,” Olhiser said.

The fire originated in the Napa Valley area, but due to high winds in that particular area of Northern California, it spread too quickly to be contained.

“The last update I saw said roughly 5,700 structures [buildings and homes] have been lost, so the devastation is honestly unfathomable,” Olhiser said. “I think seeing a clip on the news of KTVU interviewing my dad in front of where our home used to be was really when it hit me. All that was left was a small brick wall at the front of where my bedroom was, our metal patio furniture in the back yard, and the melted remains of his truck in our driveway.”

Breanne Ruiz, a senior and nursing major, was one of the few people whose family was fortunate enough to still have their home left standing.

“The fires burnt up part of my brother-in-law’s property, and it forced evacuation of some of my family members from their homes. Luckily, their homes were safe, but I have friends who have lost everything,” Ruiz said.

A handful of students at Azusa Pacific were woken up to numerous texts and phone calls Sunday night and early Monday morning.

“I found out about the fire on Sunday night when a friend sent me a video of the hills on fire. I woke up to a text from my mom on Monday morning saying she had to evacuate, so that was especially nerve-wracking,” said Katie Gavitte, a junior history major. “My initial reactions turned into shock at the revelation that this was happening in my hometown and not somewhere else.”

Gavitte’s parent work in the rescue field, trying to help and save as many people as they could.

“Both of my parents have jobs in the emergency field, my mom is a nurse and my dad works for California Highway Patrol, so they have been extremely busy trying to cater to the influx of hurt/displaced people,” Gavitte said. “It has affected me personally just by making it hard to get a hold of them and just stressful in general. We are thankful to God for making it easy on us compared to other peoples’ situations.”

Anyone can help to aid the victims of this tragedy. Many relief areas are set up to take in those who had to evacuate their homes or have nothing left.

“The amount of clothing donated has completely surpassed expectations, so clothes aren’t really needed anymore, but the community still needs first aid equipment and person hygiene things, definitely collecting items for victims,” Olhiser said.

Ruiz suggested a different way to help the families who lost their homes and were displaced from the fire.

“The best way to help right now is prayer for all the victims and firefighters. Also, Red Cross is accepting donations for the victims who lost everything,” Ruiz said.

If you would like to donate to the relief efforts for the fires, you can do so through the following links:;jsessionid=00000000.app30108b?df_id=1660&mfc_pref=T&1660.donation=form1&NONCE_TOKEN=D0715DE1F151F57ED17D9E455B7FF9AE