Napa just beginning to rebuild six months after fires

Napa, Calif. (KGO) -- Its been six months since three separate fires converged on Napa Valley, destroying more than 600 buildings, most of the homes. Now that the dust has settled and most of the debris has been removed, the community is rebuilding but it's been a slow process.

The night of the fires, Oct. 8, is one that Adrian Gonzales won't soon forget. "Everything was dark and smoky. You couldn't see anything really," recalled Gonzalez, as he stood on the pristine green lawns of Silverado Resort and Spa.

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First came the embers and smoke and then the flames, charging down the hill toward Silverado, where Gonzalez is the resort manager.

"This place changed dramatically. We had to evacuate everybody. The resort was sold out and everybody had to go, within minutes," said Gonzalez.

The historic mansion at Silverado was saved, but the neighborhoods around it suffered greatly as home after home, hundreds of them, burned to the ground.

"The smoke alarm in the house actually went off," said Bob Albo, who has a family home at Silverado near the Westgate, the side just at the base of Atlas Peak. Albo's wife was at the house alone the night of the fire.

"She looked outside and there was fire all around, so her choice was either to take the car out of the driveway and drive into the fires, or escape out through the golf course, past the golf course," said Albo, grateful that his wife chose the golf course escape route.

Now six months later, The Army Corps of Engineers is just now removing the last of the ash and debris from the Albo's lot.

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In all, more than 200,000 tons of debris have been removed from more than 600 properties.

So far, the fires have cost Napa County $6 million for emergency response along with lost property and sales taxes and hotel revenues.

"We still have to project out what will be the cost of repairing guard rails, and other infrastructure projects, including repairing retaining walls that were lost due to the fires," explained Belia Ramos, a Napa County Supervisor. "And that's on top of the earthquake recovery that we still have underway."

The city of Napa suffered no direct damage from the fires but the economic impact has been tremendous.

"The businesses here are really affected by the tourism and what happens upvalley," said Peter Mott, Vice-Mayor of Napa. "So it had an effect on businesses here, on our hotels, our restaurants, and we're still feeling some of that."

The resort at Silverado was closed for weeks, but now finally things are returning to normal.

"It was a huge impact to the community, but now we're here," said Gonzalez. "Still here, all together."

"We are understanding that this fire has been a part of our history and in some respects will be shaping our future," said Ramos.

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