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First, I like to say that all of us are thankful and very appreciative for all firefighters, organizers and helpers who were involved during this bad fire and that many of them risked their own lives.

We all know that and I like to say a heartfelt 'Thank You' to all of them.

We are residents of "The Crest" in Silverado and lost our beautiful home. The Crest has 28 homes, it is a gated community, and about half of the homes burned down.

My husband, John, and I are Napans since 15 years and love our valley and its community, and looking at this "war zone" now is immensely painful.

My husband was alone in the house on the night of the 8th of October. I was in Europe.

He would have slept through it all if not a thoughtful neighbor next door and finally someone else (firefighter?) had banged on the door; it was already shortly before 11 p.m.

So he just had time to grab one car key, wallet and put on pants to get into the one car that was parked outside to drive off.

He was lucky to have made it.

He did not see any fire trucks around. I assume most trucks were in other areas like Calistoga/Santa Rosa, where the fire was raging too.

It seems to me today that we did not have enough fire trucks to be everywhere. I wonder -- maybe our house then would have had a chance to survive?

And what about the number of fire trucks we have available; who makes the decision where they are needed? How does this work? Does/did it work?

What we can learn from this experience?

It comes to mind -- a more neighborly "working together" would also be a plus. I think it would be a good idea to elect/choose someone from the neighborhood to take charge and start a chain of phone calls in a dangerous situation to alert the rest of the neighbors -- we all have cellphones.

And sirens are needed to alert people in tricky situations, and early enough, so that everyone has time also to collect a few things of personal importance.

I am not a fire expert, but it seems to me that there is room for improvement to deal with situations like that and we need to learn from it.

We are blessed that we are safe but having lost all memories is unbelievably sad.

Ulla M. Brown


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