Looking for hope in a brutal fire season.

California Strong

Story Patty Malesh

December, 2019

“Even if fire hasn’t touched us, we’re all part of California’s figurative tent city,” laments Emmy award-winning KGO-TV reporter and Marin resident, Wayne Freedman. His professional photography of late looks more suited to dystopian film than the adventure and nature varieties. In California, fall is becoming more and more synonymous with fire and losses—of homes, lives, livelihoods, and landscapes—and it’s creating a disruption in the force for North Bay residents. 

But it is also synonymous with the resiliency and gratitude among the locals. Heather Orosco, a resident of Marin, spent much of the last week of October and first week of November without power. She brought Ziploc baggies filled with ice home on the bus from work in San Francisco every day to keep her groceries chilled and charged her phone enough to check in with her mom, Ginger Orosco, in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa, which was devastated by the Tubbs Fire in 2017. That fire stopped within a couple hundred feet of her family home on three sides. 

This go-round, Ginger is counting her blessings once again. Now skilled at quick escapes and transient travel tricks, she texted Heather after the winds died down from her life in the new normal. “Blue sky and not a trace of smoke in the air this morning. I am unpacking my car and no longer worrying about this!” What is past is past, even if it might happen again in the future. 

We are strong. We are resilient. We got this. 

From the Issue


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