Sonoma County Fires: Coffey Park Chronicles

'They were very much like us a month after the fire,' said Jeff Okrepkie, chairman of the Coffey Strong neighborhood group. 'They didn’t know what they needed to know.'
Eleven months after the destruction of Coffey Park, many who lost homes there and remain scattered throughout the North Bay still find ways to come together.
The delays fire survivors face in the increasingly crowded maze that must be traversed before they can rebuild — including home design, permitting and construction scheduling — has left a growing number of them frustrated.
A Bay Area artist made nine pendants, each imprinted with portions of a pine cone from a tree Colleen and John Thill lost along with their home to the Tubbs fire.
Contractors, including AshBritt Environmental, are covering the cost of the community project, which would have otherwise fallen on neighborhood’s property owners.
Developers are opening model homes in Coffey Park, where more than 1,200 homes burned last fall. Builders and fire survivors say they give prospective customers a glimpse of the future.
Heather and Alex Apons obtained a construction loan to replace their Coffey Park home, but they’ll have to pay $1,000 a month more than they did with their old mortgage.
The sketch artists have captured fire response and recovery scenes in Coffey Park, as well as other Sonoma County areas affected by the wildfires.
Nearly nine months after October’s devastating wildfires, the neighborhood is bustling with activity, with more than 220 homes in construction.
On Friday, Dan Bradford became the first person to move back into a house rebuilt in fire-ravaged Coffey Park. The housewarming party was unforgettable.
The frustration at The Orchard mobile home park surfaced Wednesday when residents announced they had filed a class action lawsuit against the park owner over the fire recovery.
Seven months after the wildfires, the fire-ravaged neighborhood is starting to look like a construction zone.
Construction workers cleared the Waring Court homesite of fire debris Friday.
Teri and Mike O’Donnell lost their longtime Coffey Park home in the October wildfires. Life today involves letting go of what’s been lost, preserving what you can and looking each day for signs of hope.
Two factory-built sections of home were set in place by a crane last week. Such rebuilds require less local labor and materials — both of which could be in short supply as Sonoma County begins to rebuild.
The October disaster in many cases claimed both homes and businesses for county residents. Their ranks include landscapers, painters, house cleaners and musicians, many operating from home.
City officials said the 5-acre park’s topsoil likely needs to be scraped before the space can be renovated.
A Florida debris removal company has offered to help Coffey Park residents solve a vexing problem: replacing the burned, cracked and sinking walls on Hopper Avenue.
Businesses surrounding the fire-ravaged Coffey Park neighborhood have experienced a drop in customers — and the emotional toll of working in the shadow of a burn zone.
Four months after fires devastated their neighborhood, a single new house has taken shape in Coffey Park. The time of rebuilding remains months away for many.
Elected and neighborhood leaders applauded the news, saying it opens the door for rebuilding homes.
Neighbors were startled to learn they, not the city, owned the walls burned in the October wildfire and are now responsible for costly replacements.
Henry Coffey and Morrice Schaefer saw opportunity in the land when it lay far outside Santa Rosa.
Students were welcomed back to campus, damaged in the October wildfires, with hot cocoa, donuts and stuffed bears Tuesday.
The project is the first in Santa Rosa to replace a home destroyed by the October wildfires.
Today, the final section of streetlights turns on in the neighborhood. 'It gives you a ray of hope,' said resident Lani Jolliff.
Christmas carolers and an impromptu nighttime carnival transformed an area where 1,300 homes burned.
Coffey Park fire survivors need builders. A number have now stepped forward to offer their services.
At night before silhouettes of burned evergreens, on ground newly cleared of ashes, May Salido and her three children set out a Christmas tree.
A Santa Rosa wrecking company is hauling away the destroyed vehicles for free.
For some neighbors, the organizing effort informally known as Rebuild Coffey Park has become crucial because the costs of replacing their houses may far exceed the fire insurance proceeds they expect to receive.
With more than 5,000 homes destroyed, an already squeezed rental market has been further constricted, leaving lower income residents most vulnerable to displacement.
Coffey Park residents are facing their first major test: how to clean up the largest concentration of burned properties in Sonoma County. The outcome could significantly influence the rebuilding of their neighborhood.
Residents with homes still standing near the destruction speak with awe at their neighbors’ losses.
Halloween used to be a big celebration in Coffey Park; now, it’s a reminder of what really matters.
These residents, who number in the thousands, are dealing with a past where much has been lost, a present with untold demands and a tenuous future, wrote one fire veteran.
Santa Rosa residents returned to find hundreds of homes burned to the ground in the subdivision west of Highway 101.