Count Susan Gorin and her husband Joe among the victims of the firestorm sweeping Sonoma County.
The 1st District Sonoma County Supervisor was in Ft. Collins, Colorado, for the birth of her second grandchild, a girl. She flew home on Monday to attend to the county’s crisis, and on Tuesday night took part in a press conference at Santa Rosa High school.
But as her Oakmont neighborhood came under evacuation orders, she was staying with a friend in Santa Rosa when overnight the fires crossed into Oakmont from Annandel State Park. Early Wednesday morning she received a phone call from Mike McGuire – a former colleague on the Board of Supervisors, currently a State Senator.
According to Gorin’s Facebook post, McGuire called to say he was at her house in Oakmont, it was surrounded by flames, but he was going to break a window to get inside. “What do you want to save?” he asked.
“During the next 10 minutes, Sen. McGuire, (Santa Rosa) City Councilmember Chris Rogers, Chief of Staff Jason Liles and CHP Captain Michael Palacio raced through my darkened house, retrieved our computers, car, Joe’s bike, music tablet, family photo albums and bunches of jewelry – love my jewelry – before the fire engulfed the rear of the house,” reported Gorin on her Facebook page.
Although initially it seemed the structure would be saved, not long afterward Gorin received a call from a Santa Rosa fire chief, Tony Gossner, that the house was burning to the ground.
News reports from Oakmont later Wednesday morning showed the house in ruins, save for two tall stone pillar, perhaps a gateway. Though complete details are not known, the ABC newscast reported only two Oakmont homes were lost along the development’s western flank along White Oak Dr., adjoining Annadel State Park, Gorin’s being one of them.
“I thought I had defensible space around the house; the juniper bushes were going to go this year, but they just exploded, torching the rear of the house and then the entire house,” said Gorin in her Facebook post. “Not much left will be there to sift through.”
Though she joked that the on-going home remodel had become a bigger task, Gorin responded to an Index-Tribune email, “I’m numb and in shock. I lost my house tonight, along with so many others.”
But for Gorin, the same night brought an ironic miracle as well: back in Ft. Collins, her daughter gave birth to a new granddaughter, Corrina Nadine Taylor.
“Like a phoenix out of the ashes, my granddaughter was born.”