“Awesome courage and bravery — just way, way above the call of duty, way above what any normal person would expect,” said Oakmont homeowner Steve Spanier, who is also the president of the neighborhood association. “I’m really at a loss for words to express our gratitude to the first responders for taking the stand that they did.”

Steve Spanier spoke for all of us in Oakmont whose homes once again were saved from destruction and ruin. 

To those who were less fortunate we extend our feelings of regret and solidarity. Losing a home filled with loved possessions and memories accumulated over a lifetime cannot be easily summed up in words.

With the news of the tentacles of the Glass fire reaching closer and closer, we quite early, last Sunday night came to the conclusion that Oakmont was in danger.

Assembled for the usual weekend, my family watched with growing concern the relentless forward march of the flames and by 10.30 were ready to depart. 

Heading out Pythian, we had decided to drive to Sonoma, since Santa Rosa was already coping with fires advancing on Highway 12.

Traffic was light and we reached Alameda, home of my daughter without delay.

Sleep was out of the question, as we spent the following hours the various news reports about the developing situation in the North Bay.

With sadness we heard about Skyhawk subdivision and Los Alamos, home to friends of ours, whose home was spared miraculously while those of immediate neighbors burned. 

Together with some 5,000 Oakmont evacuees, housed with friends and in hotels, we read about the five homes In Oakmont that fell victim to the gigantic Glass fire, covering some 36,000 acres. 

Being away in 2017, our family experienced the conflicting emotions of the refugee for the first time. Worried about the fate of our home and our village with the simultaneous sense of relief of having been spared the worst, the thoughts turned to the future.

What next? Nature will not adapt to our needs. It is up to us to accommodate California’s fate of recurring droughts, high heat and winds, and as a village to prepare for these emergencies.

The Oakmont Village Association Board of Directors has already set in motion a program of ‘hardening’ our homes and yards against these repeating threats to life and good.

It behooves us all to follow their directives closely and contribute substantively to this necessary endeavor. Some of our beloved trees and bushes may have to go

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  1. Malka Osserman on September 29, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    You have such a beautiful way to express our conflicting emotions. It’s hard and yet we are the lucky ones. Gratitude to you to comfort us and express our worries and resiliance!!

    Shalom, peace of mind and body to all of us.

  2. DeLaine Emmert on September 29, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Thank you for you well written letter.
    As you neighbors, we watched horrified that the fire had reached you! I’m so great full to our police and firefighters for keeping our Abandoned homes safe from theft and fire. I pray you all we be able to return soon. I also pray for those who have lost their treasures and homes.
    Do remember that trees help the environment. I know we need to do what we can to keep our homes safe. Maybe plant trees away from houses where they won’t be a danger to the houses?
    Stay safe
    Stay safe!

  3. Bruce Bon on September 30, 2020 at 6:29 am

    Thank you, Yvonne, for sharing your thoughts. There are a number of controversies within Oakmont, but fire safety should not be one of them. For all of us whose homes survive this latest fire, I urge you to follow OVA fire safety recommendations as soon as you can. Don’t wait until the last minute. Harden your home against fire, and it will be more likely that you will have a home to come back to after the next fire evacuation!

    • Lisa Symonds on September 30, 2020 at 11:43 am

      Thank you Yvonne for your words. At one of the earlier fire briefings on KSRO a firefighter indicated Oakmont firewise landscaping aided the fireFighters due to the amount of landscape rock and defensible space. We have further work to do but its a good start. Keep your gutters clean, fill holes that allow ember intrusion and create 5 ft perimeter. It goes a long way. The first responders gave very limited resources. Only 1400 very tired firefighters for 48,000 acres. Remember 12,000 structures were lost in Tubbs fire and only 115 in this fire and no fatalities. The Sonoma County community has learned from that history. The first responders are amazing and we thank you. For the Oakmont residents who lost their homes or sustained damage, let us know how we can help. We are all in this together. Wind event this week will result in winds from northwest (Hood Mtn) embers threatening Oakmont. Be safe.

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