Angels of Sonoma County Wildfires

"Starting in the middle of the night, the fires hopscotched across neighborhoods, raced across fields and jumped freeways. Wind gusts up to 70 mph pushed walls of flames nearly 100 feet high, throwing embers ahead like hot fingers into strip malls and subdivisions. Many people who fled the surge had enough time to grab car keys, perhaps a pet, but not much more. And some never made it out." (San Francisco Chronicle)...All 8 of us escaped the horror of flames racing towards our Glen Ellen AirBnB at 11:15pm Sunday evening because of two remarkable human beings: Kim & John. Just typing out their names so plainly seems to be an injustice to them. Our "angels" seems more appropriate. We were inside the home entirely unaware that a fire had just shot across our entire neighborhood with a steadfast pace. John, a stranger to us, was racing back to his home in hopes to pack a few family mementos before his home burned to the ground when he saw our lights on and noticed no cars in the driveway, of which he concluded we would have no way to escape the fire. He pulled into our driveway without pause and started yelling, "Get out of there!", "Fire!", "Get out!", "Get out!". His yells were heard and when we opened our front door we witnessed in horror flames steps from our driveway and as far as we could see, with fire trucks and widespread panic all around. Screams erupted into our weekend rental home to evacuate and within moments we all shot out the door with a second to maybe grab one item and no time to find shoes. Our angel samaratins, John & Kim, pushed to get all eight of us into a 2 door Mercedes coupe and a Chevy Tahoe, alongside their two beautiful Great Danes. This couple proceeded to calmly talk us through the severity of the situation as they swerved to get around fallen trees and the flames trying to race across the roads. The heat from the flames felt inside of the car during our escape was frightening. It seemed as if John & Kim had done this before with their calm discretion and fast thinking or were trained firefighters. They are not and had never been in a situation of this magnitude, giving that we were facing the most damaging fires in California history. They only knew that they had the lives of 8 wives & mothers in their cars and they were going to get them back to their families safely. This they knew. They did not know if their house would still be standing or if they would ever get their sacred possessions back. They did know our lives were the most important thing to them and they talked us through how to make it through this disastrous event. They asked us about our children and husbands and families. They brought us to a hotel in Santa Rosa, waited to be sure we could get a room. They gave us their phone numbers. Then they humbly exited to go help others. We got a room for 4 hours before we were again faced with another mandatory evacuation. We evacuated the hotel to only stand in front of it, not knowing what to do or what was going on. Were we in danger? Was there a fire on its way to us now or was this the best place to be? We called loved ones. We knew that we were surrounded by fires from the North, South, East and West. We knew the roads were all closed because the fire had jumped over major interstate 101. The sun was just coming up and we had hope that the planes would start flying and putting out fires. We never saw a plane. We only saw smoke getting thicker and blacker, then more red. It was coming towards us. We had no car, the shelters were somewhere but we didn't know where. You would ask one person and they would say we were safe, that this would most likely get contained in the morning and afternoon. You talk to the next person and they tell you that the flames are on their way to our hotel and everyone needs to go. But nobody knew where to go or if roads were open. People told you good luck. We opened the Lyft app and tried to get a cab, a cab to take us somewhere that was not in the eye of the fires. We decided we would do whatever we could to head towards the San Francisco airport. There were no Lyft drivers. We tried Uber and miraculously a driver accepted and was en route to come pick us up. We called to confirm. We then received another confirmed driver with the Lyft app. We were in shock when the two cars showed up and we jumped in. They asked where our luggage was since we were going to the airport. We had nothing of course. It was quite a feeling as we drove South towards San Francisco, about 10 mph due to evacuee traffic, and saw the hillsides on fire and endless black smoke. We passed 10, then 15, 30 or maybe 40 fire trucks and police vans headed to go save evacuees from the very place we had just escaped. We were in awe at the kind humans that were our guardian angels to guide us through this tumultuous sequence of events. Without them we would not be flying home to our families. To John & Kim, we owe you our lives. To Saul who drove us to San Francisco even though his own home was surrounded by fire. Pete, who was in town from Chicago for a funeral and offered us his car. There were so many wonderful people that gave us heavenly direction today. For that, we will be forever grateful and follow in your journey of kindness. If you want to help John & Kim rebuild their home & lives, please donate. The flames violently tore through their home, leaving the stone structure but destroying everything else in its path. Their garages and all photos, lifelong belongings are gone. Their business is also local and affected.  Anything helps!
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Organizer and beneficiary

Chelsea Manke 
Organizer
Detroit Lakes, MN
John & Kim Shockley 
Beneficiary
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