By Matt Villard
It’s been over a month now since devastating wildfires erupted in Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties and burned over 200,000 acres. That’s over 313 square miles, or nearly the size of San Diego, worth of charred and destroyed land.
The toll on the wine industry was, and still is huge. 23 properties in the 4 counties reported major fire damage. The full extent of the damage to the vineyards will not be apparent until next year at bud break when vineyard owners will be able to count dead and damaged vines. All of the wineries suffered, even if they were not directly in the path of the fire, due to power outages, road blocks, personnel being evacuated, etc. But, the wineries and vineyards will recover.
However, the devastation to the people and communities will take far more time and care. 42 people are dead. Over 8,000 structures ( including people’s homes) are destroyed. Over 100,000 people have been displaced. For most of those who lost their home, they had very little warning and had to leave everything behind. Their entire lives went up in flames. I’ve heard stories and seen pictures from friends of mine about how little time there was to evacuate. One picture stands out in my mind of ash falling around their car and flames on the horizon as they desperately loaded their young children and dogs into their cars to race away to safety. This friend was fortunate enough that their home survived. Many, many others were not as lucky.
There are ways you can help. There are a plethora of good relief funds and donation sites out there. A quick internet search will yield many results. A meta-site I found is https://www.northbayfiredonations.com which has a huge listing of links to other relief funds and donation sites. Here’s a gofundme page. Here’s a link to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate donation page. Please take the time and see if there’s anything you can do to help.