By Julie CHARPENTRAT
Santa Rosa, United States (AFP) Oct 11, 2017
Only chimneys remain.
Eerily, they seem almost intact, rising from a smoldering landscape on Tuesday in what was left of a Coffey Park neighborhood obliterated by a fast-moving inferno.
Barbara Baird and her daughter, Krysti Campbell, somberly sift through ashes of what long was their home.
In a fate shared by neighbors in their community in the Wine Country town of Santa Rosa, flames left little to find aside from misery.
Only shrieking crows broke a ponderous silence as firefighters helped 70-year-old Baird and her 42-year-old daughter search debris between a pair of melted solar panels.
"I'm looking for jewelry but did not find anything," said Campbell, dressed in a track suit streaked with soot.
"The fireman told me to come back later with a sieve, maybe."
The self-described "single mother" managed to smile. She worried for her 12-year-old son.
"My son is devastated; his school burned too," Campbell said.
"This house was the first where he had his own bedroom."
Baird, who lived with her daughter and grandson in the house, wept as she recounted racing from her home in just "panties and slippers" on Sunday night.
With a half-smile, Baird said she regretted not grabbing her computer on the way out, but "we never thought the house would burn like that."
The death toll from fires ravaging Wine Country and other parts of Northern California reached 15 on Tuesday, and much of the rubble had yet to be searched.
- Homeless -
Baird recalled vividly the violent wind that drove a wall of fire toward the back of the house, turning the sky orange.
"I feel homeless because I'm homeless," Baird said.
"I dont have anything left any more, so... that's all. I just feel pretty empty right now and sad."
A few lots away, Yaya Alivereti, his mouth covered with a mask to keep out cinders and smoke, wept in front of the mound of ash that was once his home.
It appeared nothing could be salvaged.
There in what had been a kitchen were a blackened washing machine and a few broken cups.
"We're safe; we're alive," said the father, who had his three children with him. "Tomorrow is another day."
Like his neighbors, he had scant minutes to escape flames that erupted Sunday and raced along, pushed by strong winds.
"Everyone was in panic mode," Alivereti said.
Carcasses of burnt cars littered the streets of the Coffey Park neighborhood. Intense heat melted thinner metal, leaving axles and engine blocks, and hardened drops on the roadway.
Not far away, several restaurants, including a McDonald's, were destroyed, as was a huge K-Mart store.
A few potted plants from the store's gardening department survived the flames. They were carefully moved outside the building, the beams of which were precariously twisted by heat.
Electric wires dangled to the ground from damaged utility poles.
In the parking lot, a dozen fire trucks from other parts of California awaited instructions, "maybe to go and check out some hot spots," said Mark Repetto, who led a group of firefighters that arrived a day earlier from the capital city, Sacramento.
Elsewhere, Kathy Ruiz, 74, sat on a camp bed in one of the many shelters open to thousands of evacuees in the San Rosa area.
She had little more than her dog, a small white poodle, when her daughter came knocking on her door in the early morning hours on Monday to usher her to safety.
Along Highway 101, a main route between Wine Country and San Francisco, two luxury hotels have burned to the ground.
On a small hill, in the middle of blackened ground, only a Hilton sign remained, protected by a stone wall. Behind it was still smoldering debris. A few bottles, some surprisingly intact, could be seen at the ruined bar.
Sydney (AFP) Sept 25, 2017
Ten people believed to be Chinese died when a supermarket caught fire in Papua New Guinea while they were sleeping, reports and officials said Monday. The disaster at the Splendid Star shop was made worse by the lack of any proper fire-fighting equipment in Manus province in the impoverished Pacific nation's north, where the blaze started early Friday. The dead included six women and fou ... read more
Forest and Wild Fires - News, Science and Technology
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