Five years ago, Oakmont resident Katy Carrel wondered over lunch with a friend whether their neighborhood was prepared for the next large-scale disaster.
It had been only about a month since a dozen October wildfires erupted overnight across Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties, making for the most destructive California firestorm on record at that time.
The largest of those blazes, the 55,556-acre Nuns Fire, tore through Sonoma Valley and menaced Oakmont, burning within a few block of Carrel’s home.
Nestled on the valley floor and benchland between the forested mountains of Sugarloaf Ridge and Trione-Annadel state parks, the 55-plus community is home to about 4,600 residents on Santa Rosa’s eastern edge.
Official maps include it as among the city’s most fire-prone areas. But it escaped heavy damage in the 2017 firestorm, losing just two homes — including the house of county Supervisor Susan Gorin — even as thousands of residents fled in the middle of the night, many with no warning.
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