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Fire Evacuees Want To Know What Happened To Their Homes


The death toll from wildfires in Northern California has now reached 17, but many fear that number could rise. Windy conditions have made it very difficult for firefighters to do their job and contain these blazes. Tens of thousands of people have had to evacuate their homes. Paula McAllister (ph) is one of them.

PAULA MCALLISTER: Only reason we feel we got out in time was because of our neighbors, someone walking around just banging on doors telling everybody to get out. It gave us a little more time to get everything that we needed out of there.

GREENE: McAllister and her husband had moved to Santa Rosa and into a new house less than a year ago. They had made some emergency plans, but only for earthquakes, as many people in California do. They had not made a plan for a wildfire.


But wildfire was the problem. So on Monday, McAllister and her husband evacuated to a town about 30 minutes away. They were anxious, of course, find out what happened to their home. So eventually McAllister's husband went back to Santa Rosa to see the damage.

MCALLISTER: He took the car and got as far as the police would let him. He parked the car, jumped two barricades and walked two miles up to our house that wasn't there anymore.

INSKEEP: That moment. McAllister's husband showed her pictures of a walkway leading up to a pile of rubble, which is where the house used to be. Around it was a neighborhood totally gone. McAllister shared those pictures on Facebook.

MCALLISTER: They're not reporting anything. They're not telling us, your street from here to here is gone. So I wanted all my neighbors that know me on Facebook to see what happened and what was gone and what wasn't gone so that they have some kind of idea what to do next.

INSKEEP: Paula McAllister would like to know what caused the fire, but she says for now she's just thankful that she and her husband are safe. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.