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Sonoma County vineyard owner recalls past trauma as nearby wildfire burns

Wildfire in Sonoma county brings up past trauma for nearby business
Wildfire in Sonoma county brings up past trauma for nearby business 03:02

HEALDSBURG — Francisco López, co-owner of Aldina Vineyards, is no stranger to the devastating impacts of wildfires.

As the Point Fire burns over 1,000 acres near Lake Sonoma, he feels a sense of déjà vu.

"For us, it's definitely pretty traumatic in the sense that, unfortunately, we were fire victims in 2017. My family lost their home over 20 years in the Tubbs Fire. It's a traumatic experience when you have that smell in the air: the fire," López shared.

López has been closely monitoring the news as the fire spreads just minutes away from his vineyard, near the southeast region of Lake Sonoma.

"That first time, none of us were prepared, especially in 2017. And I think that now, with this time, when we first knew there was a fire, it's to make sure the cars have gas, everything is ready to go in case we have to evacuate," he said.

The fire's rapid progression has already prompted evacuations across the region. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from the Dry Creek Valley, with an additional evacuation warning affecting over 4,000 residents north of Mill Creek Road. An evacuation center has been set up at Laguna High School in Forestville. The situation is also impacting López's business.

"I don't think there's a lot of things happening in Healdsburg today, but there are some people here in town, and we'll do our best to take care of those people," López remarked.

He is also following emergency recommendations shared by Sonoma County and local organizations like United Way of Wine Country. Lisa Carreño, Director of United Way of Wine Country, highlighted the importance of the 211-emergency line.

"Ninety-four folks have contacted the 211 in the last 24 hours, which is unusually high for our 211 activity. From what I understand from our call center and our 211 director, most of the calls have been coming from this region right here. It's the folks who are in the evacuation warning zone," Carreño explained.

For López, it's a time to remain vigilant, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

"Trying to be mindful of so many of us who have already lost homes and the wineries that have been closed," he said.

Francisco López is committed to staying on top of this emergency while also helping those in need during this critical moment.

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