This article appeared on The Atlantic’s CityLab.
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.
Even before the fires, low-wage laborers and an estimated 28,000 undocumented workers struggled to eke out a living in an area with an exceptionally high cost of living. Now, the question facing them is not how they will rebuild their lives, but whether they can at all.