Santa Rosa remembers firestorm anniversary with community prayer service

ByCornell W. Barnard via KGO logo
Monday, October 8, 2018
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People shared their memories of escaping the fire survival stories.

SANTA ROAS, Calif. (KGO) -- There were prayers for a community still healing wounds from a deadly fire.

About 250 people attended the ecumenical prayer service at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa on Sunday.

"I could smell the smoke, I knew we were in trouble," said Gateway City Church pastor, Greta King.

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Pastor King lives in Coffey Park where hundreds of homes burned October 8th and 9th 2017.

"Miraculously, our home and church survived yet we grieve because so many people lost so much," said pastor King.

Some say it feels like the fire happened just yesterday.

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"It was terrifying, my parents lost their home so did my aunt and uncle," said Suzanne Browne, a Santa Rosa Resident.

Browne's relatives are rebuilding but not everyone has the means to do so.

"Many were underinsured, unable to rebuild. But for the most part, Sonoma County is strong," Browne added.

Cardinal Newman High suffered damage in the fire, several buildings were destroyed.

First responders attended the service. Santa Rosa's Fire Chief says tough lessons were learned from the fire, many homeowners say there was no early warning to evacuate.

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"This is a good day for the community recognizing the people we lost and the troubles we had that night, we're moving forward with positive reflection," said Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner.

Gossner says the fire department has new safeguards in place. It now has the ability to send electronic alerts to the entire community in the event of an emergency. Something the department didn't have the ability to do last year.

For more stories and video about the North Bay Fires go here.