Skip to main content

A Look at the Devastation Caused by the Wildfires Blazing Through California

In one Santa Rosa neighborhood, all that remains is the husk of a community.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

California has been enduring some of the worst wildfires in its history over the past few days.

As of Thursday, officials have confirmed 28 deaths in fires throughout wine country, north of San Francisco, the Los Angeles Times reports. Nine hundred people have been reported missing in Sonoma County alone, with 437 of those found safe. An estimated 180,000 acres and 3,500 structures have burned.

The following photographs come from Santa Rosa, one of several cities in the heart of the blazes. They were taken Tuesday afternoon, in a suburban neighborhood of mostly single-family homes, tucked between the 101 freeway and low, forested mountains. At the time, there were just two small groups of people around, reports photographer Taliesin Gilkes-Bower—presumably folks who had come back to their homes. Not that there was much for them to find. "I didn't see a single photograph or piece of clothing or piece of art or really anything you would think of as a memento," he says. "I've never been in a zone that's been burnt to that degree."

The few structures in the area that remained—what seemed like metal garden shacks—were still emanating heat. The air smelled "nauseating," Gilkes-Bower says. The neighborhood was silent, save for the sound of sirens.

Meanwhile, the fires continue to burn. The Tubbs Fire, which had torched this neighborhood, is 10 percent contained, according to Cal Fire's statewide map. Officials are still worried it may move to Calistoga, a city on the other side of the mountains, the L.A. Times reports.