'Two years stronger together:' Tubbs Fire survivors reflect on firestorm anniversary

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- It's a date North Bay neighbors will never forget. Two years ago this week, a devastating wildfire tore through much of Sonoma County, destroying thousands of homes. Now in a mission to build a Better Bay Area, many of those survivors are still at rebuilding their lives but on Sunday, many took time to look back and reflect at a special anniversary event.

There was music and lots of food and drink, at this community event in Santa Rosa, all to honor and celebrate what could be the most resilient neighbors in America.

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"I'll never forget I ran downstairs and opened the door to chaos," said fire survivor May Salido.

"We lost everything," she added.

"It's been a hell of a rollercoaster, two years," Steve Rahmn told a group of his fellow survivors.

Rahmn and his family survived the Tubbs firestorm in 2017 but his home in Coffey Park was destroyed. His new home is still under construction but should finally be completed by year's end.

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"The first year wasn't a celebration, but two years more of a celebration because there's a lot more hope than there was before," said Rahmn.

More than five-thousand homes burned. Hundreds of homes are now being rebuilt. Neighbors from Coffey Park, Mark West Springs, Wikiup, and Larkfield all came to the community event.

"We all know what we've been through, we all need a hug every now and then, " said Salido.

There was a moment of silence to remember 24 victims from Sonoma County who lost their lives in the fire. Their names are now part of a memorial outside the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts.

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"There are those who don't feel Sonoma Strong, they feel frustrated and aren't getting anywhere," said Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore.

Lisa Frazee can relate. She and others are still battling with their insurance companies over monthly living expenses which will expire this week.

"Our community is going to be devastated when these living expenses stop getting paid, we'll have to pay for mortgages, rent and the new property rebuild," said Frazee.

California's Insurance Commissioner has stepped in, asking insurance companies to consider extending those monthly living expenses beyond October 8th, the two year anniversary of the Tubbs Fire.
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