My wife awoke in the middle of the night to the smell of fire, investigated the house, and, finding nothing, tried to go back to sleep. On Monday morning, our deck was shrouded in black ashes, and the sky was a snarled gray, despite the absence of fog or clouds.
Forty-five miles to the north, in Santa Rosa, the locale of one of 17 fires that have turned parts of California into cauldrons, our nephew, his wife and baby daughter also awoke early Monday. By the time they decided they had to leave, at 6:30 a.m, homes a few miles away had been razed by flames. Their drive south to a relative’s house usually takes less than an hour, but this time it took two and a half hours because the road was clogged with evacuees. (Late Monday, they discovered their house was untouched.)
Most residents of Mill Valley, the town just north of San Francisco where we’ve lived for 34 years, have been no more than moderately inconvenienced by the fires, but they add to our…