Massive Santa Rosa commercial fire contained, at least one business destroyed

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Thick smoke and flames aren't what people want to see in Santa Rosa on any day, but especially not while a Red Flag Warning is in effect in the North Bay.

"We prevented the fire from getting into the homes and kept it in the backyards and in the wildland," said Paul Lowenthal, Santa Rosa Fire Department's assistant fire marshall.

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Due to the Red Flag Warning, which the National Weather Service issues when weather or conditions could lead to wildfires, firefighters were already being pre-positioned in areas of high risk.

However, that couldn't help Gerhard Gassner.

"I can't even," Gassner said. "It's too brutal."

The timber worker moved from Germany to Santa Rosa two decades ago and created massive structures for homes and businesses by hand through his company.

Gassner's business burned to the ground.

"My life now, here, it's gone," Gassner said. "Twenty years of gathering work."

Gassner, who was planning to move from the destroyed building next month, shared the space with another business.

Other shops were behind the building and across the parking lot. Most of them suffered deep losses.

The McKenzie family is thankful they didn't lose anything.

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"I opened the back door there and couldn't see," Linda McKenzie Roan said. "Things were flying through the air."

The McKenzie family is just beginning to recover from the North Bay fires. They moved to their home in Santa Rosa about six months ago.

When Saturday's fire hopped the train tracks and headed for their home, they said it felt like déj vu.

"Instant panic mode," Linda McKenzie Roan said. "Like, not again."

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"I recommend everyone have a plan because it can happen at any time, you know," Melissa McKenzie said.

Santa Rosa saw high temperatures, low humidity and thankfully no wind on Saturday.

Due to fire danger in the past, PG&E has turned off the power.

Saturday the utility told ABC7 News, "Our Wildfire Safety Operations Center and meteorologists monitor weather around the clock. At this time, we don't anticipate calling a Public Safety Power Shutoff. However, conditions can change quickly. PG&E has a plan and we encourage our customers to have a plan. We encourage our customers to make sure we have the best contact information by going to"
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