A TPG Reader Shares His Experience Evacuating a Hotel During California’s Massive Wildfires

Oct 9, 2017

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Four counties in North Bay, California are in the direct path of massive wildfires. Thus far, thousands of residents, tourists, business owners and more in Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties have been forced to evacuate. As windy and dry conditions fuel the fires, emergency services are likely to call for more to evacuate the area.

The Points Guy reader David W. was staying at the Carneros Resort & Spa in Napa when he first experienced the fire. He contacted TPG to share his story and what it was like to experience the evacuation. You can read his full account below:

“I was staying at the Carneros Spa & Resort on Sonoma Highway in Napa. We had just arrived there yesterday afternoon after a weekend of wine tasting with my fiancé and her parents to celebrate our engagement last month. We noticed as [we] arrived, there was smoke billowing off in the distance, but didn’t think too much of it. Around sunset, the wind started to really pick up — 20 mph sustained winds with gusts to 30 [mph]. My fiancé and I fell asleep around midnight a little unnerved by the wind and the acrid smell of smoke.
Around 2:00-2:30am PDT, we were awoken by loud banging and screaming from a hotel employee demand[ing] we evacuate because of a fire. At that point I thought our individual cottages were on fire, but as soon as we stepped outside, we understood what he was talking about. There was ash falling from the sky and we had a little trouble breathing as we ran with our luggage to our rental car. As we [were] making our way to our car, we could see the night sky was lit up by a reddish, pink hue from the flames nearby — hotel employees told us that the fire was 0.25 miles away due west from the resort on Sonoma Hwy.
Because we left in such a haste, I was not able to take any pictures of what was going on unfortunately. The situation was a bit chaotic. There were plenty of confused hotel guests who were slow to make movements out of the area, but we did not take their warnings lightly. Some hotel guests were not waking up despite the employee screaming and banging on their doors. Before we left, we checked in with the front desk to tell them that our cottages had been evacuated. 
We were lucky to have a rental car because other hotel guests had to rely on hotel employees, driving Cadillac Escalades, to ferry them to the Crosswalk Community Church in downtown Napa. We made our way to the church to find a packed house of Napa residents and other hotel guests. After about 10 minutes at the shelter, we decided to abandon all of our Napa wine tasting plans for today and spend the rest of our trip in SF. We are staying at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown out of our own pocket. 
We have yet to receive an update on the Carneros Spa & Resort, but I am wondering why they waited so long to evacuate us. A 2:00am wakeup definitely slowed down the evacuation process of the resort, but all in all, I am glad we are safe.”

David’s story shows just how serious these fires are and how emergency personnel are taking precautions in making sure people are evacuating. David followed up, saying, “We just tried calling the Carneros Resort & Spa to check on them, but the phone lines are down. It seems like the power may also be out.”

If you’re in the area that’s affected by these fires, don’t take emergency evacuation orders lightly. Get out of the area until the fires are under control.

Featured image by Josh Edelson / Getty Images.

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