North Bay wildfire survivors hope federal funding will help prevent future disasters

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Sunday, December 19, 2021
North Bay residents hope federal funding will help prevent wildfires
On Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers toured a North Bay neighborhood devastated by wildfire in 2017.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Preventing wildfires is one of the components of the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden last month. On Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers toured a North Bay neighborhood devastated by wildfire four years ago, officials say new investments may prevent future tragedies.

Santa Rosa's Coffey Park was ground zero for the Tubbs wildfire in 2017. 3,000 homes were lost across the city but than 1,000 of them were in this neighborhood. The catastrophic loss is still hard to fathom today.

"We lost lives, we lost businesses, livelihoods and homes," said Congressman Mike Thompson.

BEFORE & AFTER: How North Bay Fires impacted Coffey Park in Santa Rosa

Coffey Park in Santa Rosa has been ground zero for recovery from the North Bay Fires. DRONEVIEW7 shows us a neighborhood on the mend.

Thompson and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi toured Coffey Park Saturday where many homes have now been rebuilt.

"You suffered so much but came together so beautifully and listened to each other on how to build back better," Pelosi said.

Pelosi was speaking to fire survivors at the news conference, touting the passage of the the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act providing $1.2 trillion in funding for jobs, highway improvements, including wildfire prevention in California and the West.

"The truth is we can improve our infrastructure, we can improve vegetation management and preparedness which can help us prevent catastrophic damage from 2017," said North Bay Congressman Jared Huffman.

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Wildfire survivor Lisa Frazee is still rebuilding her home. She says preventing future wildfires is crucial.

"We are a fire family, one of the things we're working towards now is we don't want any new members we don't want more survivors to join us," said Frazee.

Funding could pay for new fire engines, fire prevention technology, and new fire stations.

"For the city specifically, we're looking at building three fire stations and building a fire station in underserved communities like Roseland, we've got funding for that," said Santa Rosa Fire Chief Scott Westrope.

The investments can't guarantee more wildfires won't happen but new tools can keep resilient communities like Coffey Park safer and better protected.