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Kauai woman loses California home

October 12, 2017 GMT

LIHUE — Century-old photos and memories of a life before moving to Kauai went up in flames on Sunday, and Marlene Blair can’t do anything about it right now.

It was all harbored in her Santa Rosa house, which the Lihue resident bought in 1972, one of the many that burned down Sunday night in the Tubbs Fire.

The house is in Larkfield, near Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital — the hospital was evacuated Monday, along with Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Rosa medical center.

“My husband and I moved into it (the house) and that had been our home before we came to Kauai,” Blair said. “We had so much memorabilia. Everything went to the ground.”

She continued: “His family was in the theater business and they were originally from Kansas, and there were a lot of photos from back over 100 years, and all of that is lost.”

Blair is owner of Kukui Grove 4 Cinemas in Lihue.

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Three people were living in the home when the wildfire took over Sunday at about midnight — Blair’s daughter, her daughter’s husband and their son. Blair said she’s thankful they’re still alive.

“They got a phone call about midnight and they said ‘get down the hill, everything is on fire’, and they did,” Blair said. “Life was saved and things were lost, that’s about all you can say.”

The Tubbs Fire’s cause is still being investigated, according to the Cal Fire incident command team and the City of Santa Rosa, which are managing response for the wildfire with around 15 other agencies.

As of Wednesday afternoon, it had burned 29,800 acres, destroyed more than 500 structures and was one of more than 14 blazes currently charring northern California.

Weather patterns through today are expected to produce critical fire weather conditions, and there have been at least 11 fatalities associated with the Tubbs Fire-Pocket Fire complex, according to the Cal Fire incident update.

Cal Fire confirmed 11 deaths in the complex as a result of the fire, and the death toll had risen to 21 throughout Northern California.

Blair said it’ll probably take a month or so before she heads back to Santa Rosa to take stock of the damage, because so many people are still displaced and the fires are still raging.

At least 20,000 people are estimated to be seeking shelter after evacuations, which are ongoing throughout much of the northern part of the state.

“I don’t know where all these people are going to be going,” she said. “(My family), they’re staying with my other daughter. Right now they’re huddled together.”