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Sonoma County Gazette
Fountaingrove after the fire

Rebuilding Our Wine Country

Nov 21, 2017


By Mazher Mir

What good can ever come from a call at 2 A.M. in the morning! The night of October 9th, I went to bed after hearing all the media noises over the possibilities of nuclear attack reaching California from North Korea. Like many other Santa Rosans, the frantic call to run for your life, strong burning smells, hearing the sirens, blasting sounds of electrical transformers and observing the frenzied glowing sky from the Tubb fire, I was thinking” Is this really happening!”

The furious firestorm ran rampant through our heavenly beautiful wine country in just a few hours. All of us had to surrender to a week-long wildfire which took a serious toll on our lives and will continue to. Even though there is nothing good we can expect from this incident, we have found ourselves to be a very close and strong community. We are very lucky that our local economy has always been sound and jointly we have created a great champion community. However, we were never prepared to handle such a calamitous situation. Our local, state and federal government efficiently worked together to minimize the casualties and other losses with the outstanding support from 18 other states and two friendly countries, Australia and New Zealand.

Recently at a fire recovery workshop in Rohnert Park, organized by, the city mayor Mr. Jack Mackenzie alerted us that we should not put our guards down at the end of this particular disaster and to always be prepared to tackle any future incidents. Most of us from the Santa Rosa area can remember the unexpected tornado that we had in 2011. A dry condition or any electrical sparks could have turned that into a similar disaster too. Our community now has a firsthand experience in thriving through a massive crisis. We should now put our familiarities and resources to turn this catastrophe into a turning point to better us.

If all the local leaders and legislatures work together as they did during this crisis, we should have a robust advancement of infrastructures auxiliary to handle emergency situations. This will enable us to also build many permanent shelters primarily for our local citizens but also for the people of neighboring counties in any such need. I am not proposing for any exotic city buildings in our suburbs be created, but something environmentally sound and postmodern. We can build our houses with better technologies based on more research and understandings of the regional conditions that have and could potentially affect us. We have great universities and research facilities in the bay area that should be invited to understand the weather patterns, air, and water quality and perhaps our Sonoma State University can be a hub for such projects. Catastrophic events are beyond pricing and we can recover from it well if we generously mitigate with the fire victims (with least amount of griefs) and engage our people to bigger improvements.

From the workshop, we have learned that it’s no secret that insurance companies will essentially increase the fire premiums on us. Would they reduce the premium if we prepare the whole community to better fight any disaster? Most likely not. We have abundant educated people and entrepreneurs here to actually form a fire insurance company locally that can fully support and serve our needs efficiently. This profitable business can then support the expansion of our regional fire departments and possibly create a much bigger emergency response team prepared to tackle disasters like this or any unforeseen civil unrest. Kudos to our Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department to subdue rumors over arsonist that could have seriously harmed our citizens and distracted us from dealing with raging wildfires. With a self-sufficient and strong community, we should experience positive migration coming from many parts of the country that is essential for any sustainable economic growth. As a parent of three children, we are always eager to know the best place in the USA to raise a family. Sonoma County assured me that we are in the right place. 


Nov 29, 2017
Good write-up! The Santa Rose fire has been a painful lesson in how vulnerable we are even with all our technological advancements. Rebuilding a community after such a devastating fire will inevitably require all hands on deck -- local government and community leaders, business leaders, non/for-profit services and most importantly a united people. The worst may be over, but the long road of rebuilding the community will require a significant investment in time, resources, and mindfulness from everyone in and around the communities that are affected. We hope your community recovers and regains its momentum back soon. Best.
- Kabir M

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