'The Day We've Dreamed Of Has Arrived': Napa County To Begin Wildfires Recovery

Originally published on October 15, 2017 6:13 pm
Copyright 2017 KQED. To see more, visit KQED.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In a few minutes, we will hear from Pink. She's been at the top of the pop charts for nearly 20 years now, and she still has a lot to say. But first, an update on the wildfires that are devastating parts of California. Forty people have been confirmed dead, and nearly 6,000 structures have been destroyed. But there's been some good news today. Officials in Northern California say they're making progress. From member station KQED, Sonja Hutson brings us this update.

SONJA HUTSON, BYLINE: Napa County Supervisor Belia Ramos says firefighters have made enough progress on the fires there for the county to switch to recovery mode.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

BELIA RAMOS: A week ago, this started as a nightmare. And the day we've dreamed of has arrived. And I look forward to the day that this can be a distant memory in which we recall that we were resilient and that we got through this together.

HUTSON: East of Napa, in Sonoma County, the fires are less contained. And a week in, firefighters are getting tired. Joe Novelli is a battalion chief from the San Mateo Fire Department, south of San Francisco. He was on the frontlines fighting a fire outside Santa Rosa. Generally, firefighters are on for 24 hours and then rest for 24 hours, but Novelli says these wildfires are so intense that at, one point this week, he was on the fire line for four straight days.

JOE NOVELLI: I don't know if I've ever gone that long before. Yeah. I was concerned about my - the thought process.

HUTSON: How much did you sleep during those four days that you were out here?

NOVELLI: Not much at all, probably 20 minute pockets sitting in the car. I would say, all said, maybe two and a half hours.

HUTSON: Back in Napa, It's looking like many communities are safe and residents will soon be able to return home. But Napa's fire chief says the blazes will likely continue to burn until the rains come. For NPR News, I'm Sonja Hutson in Santa Rosa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.