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Economy

Wildfires Have Worsened the Bay Area's Housing Crisis

For many low-wage workers in pricey Sonoma County, the question is not how they will rebuild their lives, but whether they can afford to stay.
Workers remove debris at the site of a home destroyed by fire in the Coffey Park area of Santa Rosa on November 8, 2017.
Workers remove debris at the site of a home destroyed by fire in the Coffey Park area of Santa Rosa on November 8, 2017.Jeff Chiu/AP

During the night of October 8, Santa Rosa, California, found itself pinned between two wildfires. To the southeast, the Nuns fire burned west of Highway 12. To the northeast, the Tubbs fire charred the hills outside Calistoga and worked its way southwest. In Santa Rosa, the latter would prove the more devastating. The Tubbs fire tore through the wealthy community of Fountaingrove before jumping Highway 101 and claiming about 1,500 homes in dense, working-class Coffey Park.

By the time they were contained at the end of October, a spate of fires around the North Bay had claimed more than 40 lives and 5,700 buildings.