SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- There is nothing like an 8-mile hike to learn the fate of your home at the halfway point, way up a hill.
Anna and David Matherly hiked through the Skyhawk neighborhood of Sonoma County on Tuesday. They had to know if their dream house had survived the Glass Fire.
"When we drove out and looked back, I told my son, Skyhawk is gone. They cannot stop this fire," said David.
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By most accounts, Sonoma County's re-vamped early warning system has improved considerably since the Tubbs Fire in 2017, and yet the line of escaping cars on the two-lane Highway 12 stretched bumper-to-bumper for a mile and a half as the Glass Fire roared down the mountain.
Anna Matherly worried that the flames would overtake them. "We took two separate cars and not together. And I thought I would need to say goodbye to my husband via text message," said Anna.
That never happened, though a drive along Highway 12 Tuesday revealed the capricious nature of this fire as flames hop-scotched through the valley, destroying some homes and sparing others.
On Melita Road, Sean MacFarland stayed at his place until the situation appeared hopeless. "I think the important thing is we had a plan to get out."
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His home survived.
Generally, Sonoma County's escape plan worked. First-responders moved in, evacuated people and directed traffic. Santa Rosa City buses picked up senior residents at Oakmont Gardens. All got away safely.
While surveying one of three structures destroyed in Oakmont, today, Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin expressed concern about that traffic jam. "It took me an hour and a half or longer to go a few short blocks.'
"Should it be that way?"
VIDEO: Video shows massive destruction from North Bay Glass Incident Fire
Finding more solutions will take time, but Anna and David Matherly received the only news they needed when they found their home in Skyhawk intact and untouched. "We felt elation that the house is still there," said David.
"Words cannot describe the emotion of what we went through and what our neighbors are facing," added Anna.
In retracing their steps, the husband and wife of 20 years carried two bottles of sparkling wine. They took it from the refrigerator of their still-standing house. Celebration.
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