In August 2020, the Walbridge Fire was spreading dangerously close to Franceen Levy’s home in Monte Rio, a town nestled in a bend of Sonoma County’s Russian River. Just a few miles north, Armstrong Woods was already burning, and across the street, Levy’s neighbor was about to hightail it.
“Normally, I don’t evacuate,” said Levy, who lives alone at age 76. “I didn’t evacuate during any of the other fires or floods.” She stayed in her house in 1986 and 2019 when the Russian River turned her neighborhood into an island. She stayed in 2017 when the Tubbs Fire ravaged nearby Santa Rosa.
But for the first time in the 25 years she has lived in her Monte Rio house, Levy grabbed her two cats and drove to a hotel room in Bodega Bay. She sheltered there for two days before returning to her home, which survived.
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