Santa Rosa's Luther Burbank Center for the Arts miraculously survives North Bay fires

Wednesday, November 01, 2017 07:36PM
In Santa Rosa, recovering from the transition that happened in an orange flash will take years. So much change, and in the midst of that, so much reassurance that constants like the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts will still be here.


SANTA ROSA, Calif. - In Santa Rosa, recovering from the transition that happened in an orange flash will take years. So much change, and in the midst of that, so much reassurance that constants like the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts will still be here.

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"It seems like yesterday, but also a year ago," said CEO and President of the center Rick Nowlan, showing off the main auditorium which survived the fires.

An east wing filled with classrooms and a smaller auditorium did not. The roof collapsed. Fire turned beams into metal immitaions of pretzles.

"This is the path that the Tubbs Fire took to Coffey Park and we should not be standing," said Operations Director Marc Hagenlocher.

Just a few hundred yards away, the fire turned dream homes to ruin as the blaze approached.

Don Morrison and Betsy Boes, who were still working, couldn't imagine any outcome other than doom.

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"It was like snow, but there were big, orange balls of flame coming down," Boes said.

Don still hasn't returned to his evacuated apartment. The fire has affected everyone in and around the area.

"You just have to come to terms with it and deal with it," Boes added.

Seven employees lost homes. Among them was Vanessa Petersen, an event aid who worked on cleanup Wednesdsay. She describes being at the center as salvation.

"If this place had closed, I would be worse off because I would have to look for another job," Petersen told ABC7 News.

Instead of closing, they'll be reopening Monday.

Keep scrolling for photos from Wayne Freedman on Twitter.
Click here for more stories, photos, and video on the North Bay fires.
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