Thousands of affordable housing residents have evacuated their homes as the catastrophic fires in California’s wine country continue to spread Thursday.
Santa Rosa-based nonprofit Burbank Housing has 15 properties that are in the mandatory evacuation area, says CEO Larry Florin, who estimates that about 2,000 people from these developments have had to leave their homes.
Voluntary evacuations have taken place at another seven Burbank properties, and many more people throughout the region are without power or water.
All of the organization’s 63 communities were intact Thursday afternoon, but the situation remains tense with the blazes continuing to spread. Burbank’s Firehouse Village, a family affordable housing development in Sonoma, is about two blocks from one of the fire lines, Florin says.
His organization houses about 10,000 residents in Sonoma County. The impact of the devastating fires on these familes and the larger community is tough to quantify at this time but it will be deep and long term. A large number of people will be out of work, and a large number of people will need to find a place to live in an already tight housing market, Florin says.
“We can’t begin to know what the full extent of the impact will be,” he says.
Florin inspected parts of the scorched region with other community leaders. “It’s almost unfathomable the scope and the extent (of the damage),” he says. “…There are blocks and blocks and blocks of homes that are gone.”
PEP Housing is another nonprofit that provides affordable housing in the region, and its residents and staff have been hard hit by the tragic fires. Linda Tunis, the 69-year-old mother of a PEP property manager, died when her mobile home caught on fire earlier this week, according to local reports. So far, 29 people have died in the fires.
Residents at PEP’s Acacia Lane Senior Apartments in Santa Rosa had voluntarily evacuated, according to executive director Mary Stompe on Wednesday.
While the development had not been damaged, officials remained worried because the property is sandwiched between two fires.