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Sonoma County Opens New Wildfire Assistance Centers in Healdsburg, Guerneville

HEALDSBURG (KPIX) -- The Walbridge Fire, part of the LNU Lightning Complex, came within five miles of downtown Healdsburg and is still actively burning in rural areas. Healdsburg High School is Sonoma County's latest "one-stop-shop" location for fire victims aid.

"Yes, we've been through this as a county three out of the last four years but, for each person, it's a new journey when it happens to you -- when it happens to them," said Paul Gullixson, communications manager with Sonoma County.

RELATED: LNU Lightning Complex: 41% Contained

The center features representatives from government and social service agencies like FEMA, the Department of Insurance, the Red Cross and the Department of Motor Vehicles. It's all meant to guide people who may still be in a state of shock -- people like Richard Leon Allen who lost his home in Forestville.

"God must be very angry," Allen said. "It seems He wants to take everything away from everybody. I almost committed suicide."

But Richard met Viktoria Catherine Rose and she helped him get past his suicidal thoughts. The two are now homeless together and have no idea what to do. It's a feeling Lisa Frazee remembers all too well. She escaped with only her life from the Tubbs Fire in 2017.

"When the smoke hits and the fire hits, our phones blow up and it's all of us talking to each other," Frazee said. "I'm getting goose bumps right now! It just all comes back to you. It all comes back about running out that night and how it all felt -- knowing that when you go back there's nothing left."

On Saturday, Frazee was at the assistance center handing out free backpacks, folders and notebooks to help dazed people keep track of all the information coming at them. It took the experience of a fire survivor to realize the some people arrive not even having a pen.

"None of us want to go through it again but none of us want anyone else to join our club," she said. "This is a really exclusive club that we'd like to keep exclusive. We don't want any more members."

The county says they don't yet have a firm idea of how many homes have burned because the fire is in rural, wooded areas. But, with an estimated 2,000 people still evacuated, the county knows that some of them will soon be getting the news that they're part of a club they never wanted to join.

The county says they still don't have a firm idea of how many homes have burned because the fire is in rural, wooded areas. But, for those who may have lost theirs, the survivors group has a website to guide them through the recovery process.

WEBLINK: Steps to Take After a Wildfire

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