Entire Neighborhoods Are Literally Disappearing as Wildfires Sweep Through California


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If you've been anywhere near your social media feeds this week, you've likely seen reports of the devastating wildfires ravaging the state of California. At least 10 people have died and more than 1,500 homes and buildings have been destroyed in 14 different wildfires spanning eight Northern California counties. Photos of the devastation left in the wildfires' wake have been prevalent on Twitter and Instagram, but it's these heartbreaking before-and-after shots from the California Highway Patrol that have left most of the Internet speechless.

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Side-by-side photos show the Coffey Park neighborhood in Santa Rosa has been completely erased by the fires.

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Most of Santa Rosa was evacuated Monday as fires roared through the area. Once they were able to return, people came back to find their homes, schools, cars, and other belongings utterly destroyed. Heartbroken residents and the local media immediately started sharing images of the devastation.

coffey park wildfires
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coffey park fires
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Wildfires are not uncommon at this time of year in California. National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Mehle tells the Los Angeles Times they're a result of the dry weather that hits Northern California in early fall. "We also had really gusty winds and really warm temperatures," Mehle explains. "This time of year it does happen quite a bit. For the San Francisco Bay Area, our summer is late September to early October; that's when we have our warmest and driest conditions."

Still, even seasoned residents were totally unprepared for the wrath of the fires once they started. Jen Ancic, a California native who fled Santa Rosa with her two sons and her boyfriend, told the Los Angeles Times, "The whole town was on fire. It was crazy ... nothing like this has happened in Santa Rosa. There's nothing left."

california wild fires
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So far, the fires have burned 73,000 acres of land, and more than 20,000 residents have been forced to evacuate. The haze and smoke from the fires can be seen across the state, even as far as Southern California, where one person on Twitter shared a photo of the eerie glow illuminating the sky over Disneyland.

california fires
BryanClark/Twitter

Fires are still raging across the state and more than 200 people have been reported missing. Rescue teams and first responders are working at a feverish pace to try to control the damage and get people to safety. For now, there's little most of us can do besides watch and wait and hope for the best possible outcome. These photos serve as a sobering reminder of just how many people have been affected by these fires and how much work all of us will have to do to help these cities rebuild.

If you want to contribute to California's disaster relief efforts, you can donate to the Red Cross online or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a one-time, $10 donation.

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