The sky is hazy today, and there is a heavy smell of smoke that is getting worse by the hour. As I stepped outside, I was greeted by that all-too-familiar smell, and was met with swirling pieces of white ash. There’s a fire in Butte County, and the smoke has been pushed down into Sonoma by the wind. As I took a moment to stand alone in the street before getting into my car, I had a flashback to what happened exactly 13 months ago, when the Tubbs Fire came barreling into Santa Rosa and destroyed 5% of the housing stock overnight. During that chaos, nine of us stayed in our neighborhood and formed a vigilante fire force. We spent the next two weeks putting out fires, chasing off looters, and bonding in a way that doesn’t happen in regular times. The other neighbors called us the Pointe Patrol, coining the term from Viewpointe Circle, our street name.
To this day, I am frequently reminded of that time thirteen months ago. It happens not only when I wave to the neighbors, but also every time I drive home. The neighborhood to the west is gone, the neighborhood to the north is gone, and the neighborhood to the south is gone. All burned to the ground. A house here or there has been rebuilt, swarmed over by the countless construction companies that have moved into the area. Most are still just empty lots, the silent witnesses to what happened here in 2017. But our neighborhood stands, because Pointe Patrol saved it. And the apartment complex to the east also stands. Pointe Patrol saved that too.
After going through something like that, people decompress in a lot of ways. For me, I started writing. I started with the night when I woke up to my neighbor banging on my door in the wee hours of the morning, and I kept going until the evacuation was finally lifted and our neighbors were allowed to come back. I wrote about putting the fire in my backyard out with the garden hose, and about the hours we spent putting out smoldering mulch at the apartment complex, and about all the looters that tried to sneak into our neighborhood, sometimes in masks, and more often with elaborate disguises. I wrote about Oscar, my Doberman, who became the guard dog for an entire street. I wrote about exhausted firemen, passed out on our lawns that first night, and the amazing heart of Sonoma County, where gas stations lowered prices rather than raised them. I wrote about everything. And it became a book.
Today, exactly thirteen months after the event, that book finally got registered on Amazon. It goes live on Monday. I don’t know what will happen with it now that I’ve put it out in the world. I only know that what happened in those two weeks changed my life. Stories like that shouldn’t be forgotten. Stories like that need to be told. And so, in this case, I’m going to do my best to tell it. This is dedicated to you, Pointe Patrol. You know who you are.