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wildfires

Oakmont Senior Living to pay $500,000 to settle state, county investigation into abandonment of seniors during 2017 wildfires

in News/Wildfire Recovery
John Burgess/The Press Democrat
John Burgess/The Press Democrat

The operator of two elder care homes in Santa Rosa where staff abandoned frail residents during the 2017 October firestorm has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle an unlawful business practices civil lawsuit filed jointly by the state Attorney General and Sonoma County District Attorney’s offices.

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch and Attorney General Xavier Becerra accused Windsor-based Oakmont Senior Living and related companies involved in the ownership and operation of Varenna and Villa Capri of leaving residents behind during the firestorm “with no means to evacuate themselves,” according to a press release announcing the settlement Thursday.

The Tubbs fire destroyed Villa Capri and damaged Varenna, both located in Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood. Residents were rescued by relatives and emergency responders who discovered they were left behind.

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Sonoma County woman’s quick thinking saves 5 puppies during devastating wildfires

in News
Image from screenshot/ABC7 News
Image from screenshot/ABC7 News

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) — A woman’s quick thinking saved the lives of five puppies who are now in need of a good home.

A Good Samaritan and volunteer with the Soft Paws Rescue in Sonoma County, stumbled upon an empty beer box at a Walmart in Patterson on Monday. She noticed the box was taped shut on all sides and making noises.

Turns out five puppies were inside.

Continue Reading on ABC7 News

Handful of Sonoma County wineries evacuate due to wildfires during harvest

in News
Erik Castro / For The Press Democrat
Erik Castro / For The Press Democrat

The North Coast wine grape harvest has been thrown into uncertainty by an unusual August combination of extreme heat, rain and lightning that ignited wildfires forcing evacuations in western Sonoma and eastern Napa counties, including some wineries that shuttered in the midst of their busiest season.

Most notably in Sonoma, global winemaker Korbel Champagne Cellars east of Guerneville was ordered to evacuate Tuesday night just as it was in the thick of harvesting grapes used in its sparkling wines. It had its first pick on Aug. 3, company spokeswoman Margie Healy said.

“We heard from our winemaker as of yesterday that this was going to be a short and very intense harvest,” Healy said.

Korbel expected to pick all of its grapes by Labor Day weekend, now those plans are on hold. Crews of pickers have left the vineyards and the winery is closed. The company employs 320 people locally.

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Sonoma County evacuation points

in News

If you need to evacuate because of the Stewarts, Walbridge or Meyers wildfires, Sonoma County has made several evacuation points available to residents.

Residents may remain at these locations for a few hours while they wait to return home or find shelter. The Sonoma County Fairgrounds is open to house large animals.

The evacuation points are:

Continue Reading on Sonoma Index-Tribune

Santa Rosa, Sonoma County collect more than $240 million in PG&E settlement for 2017 fires

in News/Wildfire Recovery
Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat
Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat

Santa Rosa and Sonoma County together have received about a quarter of the funds from a $1 billion deal that PG&E struck last year with local governments in Northern California to settle claims arising from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires.

Santa Rosa received just over $95 million of its $117.8 million PG&E settlement share, after more than $20 million went to attorneys fees and court costs — the cost of months of representation and negotiation from January 2019 until June, when the wildfire victims assented in a vote that paved the utility’s way out of bankruptcy.

Sonoma County officials this week confirmed receipt of about $149 million PG&E settlement funds out of its $184 million share, after legal fees and costs.

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Sonoma County rebuilds two-thirds of homes lost in 2017 wildfires

in Wildfire Recovery
Katrina and Danny Lassen, with their children, Kaiden, 12, and Makenna, 9 (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
Katrina and Danny Lassen, with their children, Kaiden, 12, and Makenna, 9 (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

On the morning of her 34th birthday last July, Katrina Lassen woke up in her new house in Larkfield Estates, a suburban subdivision where all 163 homes had been incinerated by the Tubbs fire in 2017.

“It was surreal,” she said. “I just felt at home immediately.”

The ranch-style home lost in the blaze was where her husband, Danny, a Santa Rosa firefighter, had grown up. In its place, the Lassens built a three-bedroom home for their family, including their son, Kaiden, 11, and daughter Makenna, 9.

“I love it,” Katrina Lassen said. “The quarantine has given us a lot of extra time in these walls.”

Lassen said she’s especially fond of the large soaking tub and balcony adjoining the second-floor master bedroom.

Their home is one of 138 rebuilt in the subdivision, where only 25 lots remain vacant. It is one of the more than 1,700 homes already rebuilt in the wake of the 2017 wildfires that destroyed 5,334 Sonoma County homes.

In Santa Rosa, the Tubbs fire alone destroyed about 3,000 homes, primarily in Coffey Park and Fountaingrove and accounting for 5% of the city’s housing stock.

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