Fall has started to arrive, marking the start of what many local Rohnert Park residents and Sonoma State University students have come to recognize as “fire season.” Returning students from SSU know that the next few months will likely be challenging as the community braces for evacuations, poor air quality and various other fires related concerns.
Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Cotati and Petaluma experienced a fire alert last week on Tuesday, September 21, when a fire, now known as the Ormsby Fire, broke out on Ormsby Lane Petaluma.
The fire started around 1 p.m. at the home of Heidi Marks, a resident of Petaluma, and quickly spread to the surrounding vegetation of eucalyptus, cypress and juniper.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order for the SON-5K1 Penngrove area at 2:00 p.m., 900 homes were evacuated as residents were encouraged to remain calm and evacuate as quickly as possible while California Highway Patrol could be heard driving through the streets blasting hi-lo sirens to alert residents of the evacuation order.
With temperatures reaching over 90 degrees that day and the threat to surrounding vegetation with the fire spreading rapidly, more than 150 firefighters were called in as CalFire planes were seen making water drops and provide air support.
Fortunately, by 2:40 p.m. the forward progress of the fire had ceased and the ground crews were able to begin the cleanup. By 3:30 p.m., the evacuation order had been lifted and residents were allowed to return home.
The fire had spread over 15 acres, damaging Marks’ home as well as several other outbuildings. Marks and his family were not injured and only one firefighter reportedly suffered minor burns.
A second fire, called the Fremont Fire, was reported the next day, the first day of fall, Wednesday, September 22, near the Sonoma and Napa County lines.
The wildfire, which started around 2 p.m., burned over 116 acres and was not fully contained until the next morning.
Fortunately, the fire was not close enough to pose a threat to homes or buildings, so no evacuation was necessary.
The causes of the two fires are currently under investigation by CalFire.
For many returning students from SSU, fires like these bring back negative memories of all the fire damage the area has done in recent years.
“The fires of the last week have made me very stressed.” Said Abby Reitman, fourth-year creative writing student at SSU, âI smelled the smoke before my roommates and immediately started Google searching forâ fires near me. âI had them. worst flashbacks of the fires two years ago where we were evacuated for over two weeks; and I started to think about where I would go if we were evacuated. It was really creepy and I’m not looking forward to it. fire season this year.
The uncertainty that every day has at this time of year constantly puts students on high alert.
Maddie Green, a fourth-year political science student and double major in Spanish at SSU, said a lot of the stress comes from trying to figure out where to go in the event of an evacuation.
“I mean for me, my hometown is only a two hour drive away, so I know I have a place to go if a fire nearby requires us to evacuate.” Green said, “However, with the fear of the last week, I walked out of the classroom and saw that my roommates had texted to gather their things to eventually evacuate, so it’s really stressful around this time. of the year knowing that we might need to collect our things and leave on very short notice. For example, I got home this weekend and because it is this time of year, part of me was a little worried that we would get an evacuation notice while I was out of town and couldn’t grab my things. Things like that – fires – are definitely on people’s minds this fall semester .