Californians in the state's picturesque wine country are arriving home to find only smoldering rubble in the wake of continued wildfires that have destroyed some 2,000 dwellings and businesses.
At least 17 lives have been lost in the relentless blazes that broke out almost simultaneously early this week, sending thousands fleeing.
Santa Rosa resident David Leal was among them. When he returned Tuesday to where his home once stood, he took news cameras with him.
Leal and his loved ones fled Sunday as ash rained down on their neighborhood. ''We grabbed what we could, and you know, reflecting on our inventory, we didn't have time to think about what we grabbed, we grabbed what we saw," he said.
He returned to a pile of embers. And while he lost nearly everything, Leal can sleep at night knowing what was saved.
"We were able to get our two dogs and Pete the cat out of the house," said Leal, who said they are now living out of two cars. "We went and got a P.O. Box for the mail, went and got a laptop, went and got some clothes."
An hour away in Napa, one resident who came back to find his home had been saved says residents used fire from a swimming pool to put out spot fires
Mark Hyatt and a friend used a neighbor's pool to fill up containers of water to put out fires around his home.
"There was this huge roar of the flames, and that's when I knew you're out of here, you know?" said Hyatt, who was surprised to find his home still intact. "I was kind of resigned to the fact that this was going to be gone. When I left then I would basically have nothing here, you know. So this is kind of a shock that the house is still here."
And in nearby Sonoma, dashcam footage taken from a police cruiser shows a deputy bravely barreling through a forest engulfed by fire.
Officials posted the video on their Facebook page:
"One of our Deputies working the night the Fire began shot a quick video of the conditions the Deputies and Fire Personnel were facing at the onset of the Fire," the post read. "This particular stretch of roadway was in the area of Franz Valley Rd at the onset of the fire's entrance to Sonoma County.
"As both the Sheriff's Office and a County Agency full of Sonoma County residents, we are proud of all who have risked harm to help each other out in times of peril. This is but one moment in a series of moments that will end up defining the strength of our Community through what will be a pinnacle moment in Sonoma County history.
"Please be safe, be calm, and be caring for your neighbors. We will get through this disaster together !!!"