Solano Real Estate Scene: Recent firestorm triggers memories

The Coffey Park firestorm in Santa Rosa that destroyed an entire neighborhood this week is different than any wildfire that I can remember. The Oakland hills fire, which burned down 2,500 expensive homes, was horrible but unlike Coffey Park, most of the homes were up on top of a mountain with rugged terrain and very narrow streets. The Lake County fires were awful and one entire small rural town burned down but the homes were surrounded by brush and majestic old pine trees and oak trees. Coffey Park is a neighborhood similar to Woodcreek in Fairfield, as far as the age of the homes and the middle class occupants. Woodcreek is about the same distance from I-80 as Coffey Park is from Highway 101 and like Coffey Park, Woodcreek is not surrounded by dried-out brush and fuel for fire. This firestorm somehow crossed Highway 101 and burned its way through a commercial area and destroyed blocks and blocks of homes. It must have been like a hurricane, dropping tons of fire rather than rain at 40 to 50 miles per hour. Many victims of the Napa and Sonoma county fires are friends and relatives of our community. My mom and dad were evacuated out of Oakmont, a very large senior living community in Santa Rosa. My niece is a school teacher and is kind of engaged to a super-nice Santa Rosa young man. They live in Santa Rosa together on his family’s huge ranch near Fountain Grove. This property has been in their family for many years and has four very nice homes on the property – one for each son, one for Mom and Dad and one for Grandma – and it is all gone. My friends in the real estate industry and the Northern Solano County Association of Realtors are already donating and trying to help our neighbors to the north. Cardinal Newman High School burned down along with many hotels, stores, restaurants, apartment buildings and mobile home parks and many folks are uninsured or underinsured. Our community will hopefully learn from this disaster and our residents will talk to their insurance agents, financial advisers and listen to our fire officials about defensible space around our homes and even neighborhoods. Good luck to these victims. A quick mortgage-related note: If you are purchasing or refinancing a home today anywhere in Napa, Sonoma or even parts of Solano County, do not be surprised if the mortgage company requires the appraiser to revisit the home to make sure it is safe. If it is in an area of voluntary or mandatory evacuation, patience will be required.