SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The family of 17-year-old Fil-Am Baylee Aguilar volunteered to evacuate their home in Santa Rosa on Monday morning to a campsite dozens of miles away from the fires raging throughout Northern California.
Fortunately, she says, their home is still safe.
“We know some people who were affected by the fire and some people who are still waiting for their evacuation. Hopefully it all ends up safe and sound.”
Karen Wilmes — also from Santa Rosa — took her family to her parent’s home in south San Francisco after getting evacuated at 2:30 Monday morning.
Karen’s family had no idea what was happening until a neighbor was knocking on their door prompting her husband to answer.
“He went outside and he said that there was smoke in the air, and that the sky was red. He woke me up and said ‘let’s go’. Grabbed the girls, grabbed the dogs, that’s it,” said Wilmes. “We had about five minutes.”
Karen said that last they heard their home is still safe, with the fire being contained a block away.
The Wilmes family says that it is hard seeing their neighborhood on the news.
“It’s devastating. We saw the places where we like to eat, the places where we play, and they’re burned to the ground,” said Karen. “But watching the news and seeing all those places…it’s horrific.”
Looking back not even 24 hours since the evacuation, the Wilmes family consider themselves lucky.
“Our cell phones were on silent so we would have a peaceful sleep. We were very blessed to have good neighbors look out for us.”
The family says they are still waiting for the evacuation to be lifted; however, the air quality will ultimately determine when they will feel safe to go home.
Meanwhile, state and federal officials are rushing to help impacted residents.
CA Governor Jerry Brown on Monday declared a state of emergency for the North Bay fires, and vice president Mike Pence, who is in California this week, offered his support.
“To California, we say through this declaration, we are with you, our prayers are with you… and we will be with you every day until we put the fires out, and stand with these families to rebuild these communities. That’s our pledge to each one of you today.”