North Bay fires

A CalFire firefighter uses a hose to monitor hot spots during a firing operation while battling the Tubbs Fire on October 12, 2017 near Calistoga.

Close to 15,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the fires that ravaged the North Bay in October. As residents decide whether or not to rebuild, many are facing a daunting crisis: a shortage of contractors and construction workers, who were stretched thin even before the fires. Forum talks about the Bay Area’s overburdened construction industry and what it means for the speed and cost of new construction in the fire zones, and throughout the area.

Robert Eyler, professor of economics; dean, School of Extended and International Education, Sonoma State University
Keith Woods, CEO, North Coast Builders Exchange
Tim Leach, chair, Build and Rebuild Initiative, Habitat for Humanity Sonoma County
Kathy Goodacre, executive director, CTE Foundation


CTE Foundation: Construction Corps Training Program
KQED’s wildfire coverage
North Coast Builders Exchange: What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Contractor


A view of homes in the Coffey Park neighborhood that were destroyed by the Tubbs Fire on October 23, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California.

More than $3 billion in insurance claims have been filed for damages from the recent wildfires in Northern California, yet many people who lost homes are either uninsured or underinsured. Meanwhile, some wealthy homeowners benefited from the protection of private firefighters provided by their high-end insurance policies. Forum talks with a consumer advocate about the issues faced by North Bay residents and takes your fire insurance questions.

Host: Michael Krasny

Amy Bach,
executive director and cofounder, United Policyholders
Janet Ruiz, California representative, Insurance Information Institute

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KQED’s Complete Fire Coverage

Religious statues are seen among fire damaged buildings at Cardinal Newman High School on October 10, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California.

The fires that swept the North Bay earlier this month left behind a swath of destruction: at least 5,700 homes and buildings were destroyed and most significantly, at least 42 people have died, with 27 others still unaccounted for as of Wednesday. Many people in the region have lost their homes, their place of employment or have been significantly impacted by the fires in some way. In this hour we’ll talk with faith leaders from Sonoma County about how their religions or practices are helping their communities get through the challenges and emotions brought on by the historic wildfires. If your faith is helping you cope in the wake of the North Bay fires, please tell us how. And if you’re not active in a religious or spiritual practice, where are you finding solace?

Rachel Boughton,
roshi and director, Santa Rosa Creek Zen Center
Dale Flowers, pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Santa Rosa
George Gittleman, rabbi, Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa
Sameh Hussein,president, Islamic Society of Santa Rosa
Mandeep Nagra, spokesperson, Sikh Temple of Santa Rosa

Renee Hernandez looks over the remains of her Coffey Park home that was destroyed by the Tubbs Fire on October 23, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California.

Forty-two people are confirmed dead in the wildfires that swept across Northern California this month. In this hour, Forum will remember and celebrate the lives of many of those who died or are still missing. And we invite you to share your remembrances — if you lost a friend or loved one in the North Bay fires please tell us about them. Who were they? What will you miss most about them? What memories will you cherish?

Gabe Meline, online editor, KQED Arts
Sukey Lewis, criminal justice reporter, KQED
Dan Brekke, editor and reporter, KQED News
Carl Nolte, reporter and columnist, San Francisco Chronicle

A sortable list of those identified as of Sunday, Oct. 15, as having died in the fires (right click (Windows) or control click (OS X) to access links):

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Firefighters set a backfire to protect houses in Adobe Canyon during the Nuns Fire on October 15, 2017 near Santa Rosa, California.

The Bay Area had a light rain this past Thursday night. That’s great news for firefighting efforts, but it’s also a reminder that floods and mudslides pose a danger for fire-ravaged areas. Forum discusses possibilities for floods and mudslides when harder rains arrive, and we’ll also talk about whether toxic runoff from the fires could endanger water resources.

Mike Mierzwa,
lead flood management planner, California Department of Water Resources
Matt St. John, executive officer, North Coast Regional Water Board

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marijuana plants

The fires in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties have hit the marijuana industry hard. Farmers along the North Coast were preparing for recreational marijuana’s California debut this January. Instead, an estimated one third of their crops have burned at the peak of harvest season. Federal restrictions on marijuana limit growers’ access to credit and insurance so many farmers saw their cash savings go up in smoke. We’ll discuss the damage and plans to bounce back.

Mentioned on Air:
California Growers Association Wildfire Recovery Fund

More KQED Wildfire Coverage at

Smoke continues to rise from the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California.

Though this week so far has brought some good news regarding the containment of the North Bay fires, business is far from usual. Early estimates put the region’s loss of economic output at $200 million, which is expected to rise. In this segment we’ll look at how the fires are affecting the region’s wine and tourism industries, which account for about one in four jobs in Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties.

Chris Canning, mayor, Calistoga
Karissa Kruse, president, Sonoma County Winegrowers
Jill Techel, mayor, Napa
Farida Jhabvala Romero, reporter, KQED News
Christopher Thornberg, founding partner, Beacon Economics

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More of KQED’s wildfire coverage at

Fire trucks drive by closed businesses on October 13, 2017 in Calistoga, California.

As firefighters continue to contain the devastating wildfires in Northern California, residents are returning to cities and towns that were under mandatory evacuation. Forum checks in with county officials about opening schools when many students and teachers are now homeless. We’ll also hear about the health concerns of returning to fire-stricken areas.

Scott Alonso, spokesperson, Sonoma County
Karen Relucio, public health officer, Napa County
Steve Harrington, superintendent of schools, Sonoma County
Robert Giordano, Sonoma County Sheriff
Terence Mulligan, president, Napa Valley Community Foundation
Tonya Mosley, correspondent, KQED News

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An out of control wildfire approaches Gundlach Bundschu winery on October 9, 2017 in Sonoma, California

We’ll bring you the latest news on the wildfires that have been devastating communities in Sonoma and Napa counties and across Northern California.

Bill Dodd, California state senator, district 3
Michael Kodas, deputy director, Center for Environmental Journalism, University of Colorado; author, “Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame”
Molly Peterson, reporter on assignment, KQED News
Sarah Stierch, Sonoma-based freelance writer

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A firefighter watches smoke billow as flames approach a residential area in Sonoma in California on October 10, 2017. Firefighters battled wildfires in California's wine region on Tuesday as the death toll rose to 15 and thousands were left homeless in neighborhoods reduced to ashes.

In this hour, we’ll bring you the latest news on the wildfires burning across Northern California. We’ll also hear from elected officials about how their respective communities are faring, how they are providing for the North Bay’s most vulnerable populations and what type of support their constituents need.

John Garamendi,
U.S. Representative, California’s 3rd district, Former CA Lt. Governor
James Gore, member of the board of supervisors for Sonoma County’s 4th district
Jared Huffman, U.S. Representative, California’s 2nd district
Mike Thompson, U.S. Representative, California’s 5th district

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Homeowner Martha Marquez looks over her burned home in Santa Rosa, California on October 10, 2017.

Losing a home or fleeing from a wildfire can be a traumatic event. And for many people, monitoring news about the North Bay wildfires and keeping track of loved ones is stressful as well. Forum discusses how to recognize the signs of burnout and trauma, methods for taking care of yourself and the mental health services being offered at evacuation centers as wildfires continue to burn.

Michael Kennedy,
behavioral health director, Sonoma County Department of Health Services
Alan Siegel, psychologist and associate clinical professor, UC Berkeley
Alexa Stone, mental health clinician, Sonoma County Department of Mental Health

Resources Mentioned on Air:

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an aerial view of a burned neighborhood in Santa Rosa, California

Hundreds of people in Sonoma County remained unaccounted for Wednesday as devastating wildfires continued to burn throughout the region. In Santa Rosa, as forecasts predicted high winds late Wednesday, uncontrolled flames threatened homes and businesses and forced evacuations of thousands. The fires have already destroyed entire city neighborhoods, including Coffey Park and Fountaingrove. We’ll discuss the fire’s catastrophic impact on Santa Rosa and its residents.

Chris Coursey, mayor, Santa Rosa
Ted Goldberg, morning editor, KQED News 
Gabe Meline, online editor, KQED Arts; Santa Rosa resident
Farida Jhabvala Romero, reporter, KQED News
Tara Scott, program director, Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency

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Homeowner Phil Rush looks at the remains of his home destroyed by wildfire in Santa Rosa, California, on October 11, 2017. Rush said he and his wife and dog escaped with only their medication, a bag of dog food when flames overtook their entire neighborhood on October 9.

Twenty-one fires are now burning in Northern California and authorities worry that high winds on Wednesday night and Thursday morning will further spread destruction. On Wednesday officials issued a mandatory evacuation for Calistoga. Forum brings you an update on the status of the fires in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and other Northern California counties affected by the fires and how those communities are coping.

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