Defiant Roadside Signs Capture Californians' Spirit As Communities Fight Historic Wildfires

This weekend may have been a breakthrough in fighting the wildfires ravaging northern California.

Progress is being made against the wildfires ravaging northern California, and residents are beginning to return home. 

In Marin County, just north of San Francisco, residents are rallying behind signs across town that are putting communities' resilience front and center.  On Sunday night, the Marin County sheriff tweeted out a photo of a sign posted outside of Sonoma, California's Cline Cellars. It reads "The love in the air is thicker than the smoke."


"We felt the <3 and it was appreciated. ," the department tweeted.

Marin County is just south of Napa and Sonoma counties, where the fires took place. Captain David Augustus, of the Marin County Police Department, told A Plus in an email that the department helped provide resources along with emergency shelters for those who were evacuated. Marin County residents offered shelter and donated money to relief efforts, while Sonoma County residents provided food and beverages, Augustus said. 

"The police were a presence at roadblocks and by patrolling the neighborhoods that had been evacuated and to stop looters from occurring," Augustus wrote to A Plus.  "In this time of devastation, people were looking for information and some sense of security which we were able to provide."

The California wildfires have been fed and spread by a range of winds that have left firefighters bewildered since the fires began on Oct. 8. On Sunday, the winds calmed and The Los Angeles Times reported that progress was being made on two of the biggest wildfires in the region. 

"Any day we don't have flareups and significant fire activity popping up unexpectedly in those communities that are affected is a good day," Paul Lowenthal, assistant fire marshal for the Santa Rosa Fire Department, told the newspaper. "I would say today is a step in the right direction."

Statistics from the damage are jaw-dropping: more than 200,000 acres of land have been destroyed, 100,000 people have been displaced, close to 6,000 homes have been damaged and at least 40 people have died. Now, though, some residents are getting a chance to return home while firefighters continue to battle blazes across the northern region of the state. 

In the Google graphic below, you can see where there are still active fires (red flames) and where some fires have been contained (black flames). 

Red areas are shelter areas, black flame icons are where fires have been contained and red flames icons are where fires are still raging on.

Close to 10,000 firefighters have contributed to fighting the blazes across California. At a briefing in the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Sunday morning, Cal Fire incident commander Bret Gouvea addressed some of those firefighters.

"I know a lot of you are hurting, bleeding," Gouvea said, according to The Los Angeles Times. "It's been a long road. You couldn't do any more for us, and I sincerely appreciate the effort. We are going to get this done, very shortly."

If you want to help, there are a few options. GoFundMe has provided a list of verified campaigns to offer money to victims of the fire. Airbnb has waived service fees so people in the region can offer their home to evacuees. You can also send money to the Napa Valley Community Foundation.

Cover image via Kilmer Media /


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