Hannah Chort: The wind was coming in our house in big gusts, and very circular. I was thinking, “There are no tornadoes in California. This is so strange.” I've lived through hurricanes my whole life and they haven't scared me. But this wind was so different.
Colleen, the wife of my co-winemaker Kent, texted me at midnight and asked, "Are you okay? Some friends near you guys got evacuated from their house."
I went back outside and it was raining thick ashes. I saw all this orange light, and it was moving. It seemed to be getting closer so I was like, “Chris you gotta get up!”
Chris Hollingsworth: I saw we were right in the middle of this evacuation circle. And I said, “We need to go!” That’s when the panic set in.
HC: I remember just walking in circles in our house, asking, “What do I need to grab?”
CH: I opened the door and it was like sticking your head in the middle of a campfire.
HC: Colleen said we could come to their house. When we got there, they were like "You guys smell like you've been sitting right next to a campfire.” We were just radiating smoke.
All of a sudden black smoke came across the windows. As I got to the front door, Kent was coming back in and he said, "I think we have to leave. My neighbor's packing up the car.”
I went back outside and it was just so hot! We left five minutes before Kent and Colleen and we saw leaves on fire on the curbs and in the storm drains glowing. I called Kent and said, "If you didn't leave, you gotta go now!"
CH: When I got on the freeway, I looked up and it was really orange on the ridge. I remember almost starting to lose [it] but I just breathed through.
HC: Everywhere we drove we were dodging branches, dodging trees, then we sat still in traffic. I was thinking, “I ran from this fire but a tree might fall on my car right now and kill me!”
That was the scariest time, sitting in that traffic, having Kent and Colleen on text message saying, “Nobody’s moving, we’re going to have to leave on foot.” Kent ran like five blocks down from where they were to see if traffic was moving. And it wasn't. He was like, “We're not gonna get out of here.” Kent is one of my best friends and we couldn’t turn around. I [felt] so helpless!
CH: We still had hope in the morning. I looked on my phone and thought we were outside of the evacuation zone ... but then we turned to the TV, the radio, and we were like, “Holy shit! We might not have a house or a job.”
HC: Our neighbor sent a picture, so we knew our house was gone by 8 am. Now that the fires are out, people think it's back to normal. Nothing’s back to normal. I work in Windsor and a lot of [people there] haven't seen any of this, so they just don't understand. They're like, "Oh you found a place to live. You're all good." I'm like, No!