In the early morning hours of Sunday, Oct. 9, Julie Costa woke to the fire alarm going off in the home she was renting in the Fountaingrove area of Santa Rosa, Calif., about 60 miles north of San Francisco.With the power out and phone lines down, soon after she received text messages from her son, who lived across town, and a nearby cousin, who were both evacuating their homes. They urged her to do the same.
"It all happened so fast. There was no time to grab anything," said Costa, who has worked as the controller and office manager at Manly Honda in Santa Rosa since 2002. "By the time we got outside, the whole area, the winery and entire hill was on fire, and I didn't realize how bad it was until I got outside. The wind was so strong. The fire was coming towards us. The neighbor's house was on fire."
Costa and her boyfriend, who was visiting from Houston, and 8-year-old German Shepherd evacuated the home by car.
"There were tree branches and fire on the road. It was crazy. You couldn't see because of the smoke," she added. "It was just insane trying to drive out. We luckily got out."
They spent the early morning hours sleeping in the parking lot at the car dealership where she works. She instructed her son to meet them at the dealership.
As a result of the wildfires and firestorm, Costa, along with four coworkers at Manly Honda lost their homes and all their personal items, including clothes, furniture and electronics. They each received financial assistance from the NADA Foundation's Emergency Relief Fund.
According to the City of Santa Rosa Fire Department, more than 6,900 structures were destroyed in Sonoma County, including nearly 3,000 homes in Santa Rosa alone.
"It was like a war scene," Costa said after returning to the property where her home once stood. "Everything is burnt and gone. My entire neighborhood is gone."
To donate online to the NADA Foundation's Emergency Relief Fund, click here. Personal or corporate checks can be made payable to Emergency Relief Fund, c/o NADA Foundation, 8400 Westpark Drive, Tysons, VA 22102. For more information, call 703.821.7102. (Donations to the NADA Foundation are generally tax-deductible; contributors should consult their tax advisors for details.)