California Endures Fires, Blackouts, a Heat Wave and a Pandemic


For some Vacaville residents, losing power made the situation even more treacherous. As a wildfire approached his home, Philip Galbraith did not receive any type of alert when his power shut off on Tuesday night. He assumed it was part of intentional blackouts meant to lower power usage.

Then a neighbor began “desperately banging” on his door, alerting him to the evacuation.

At 2:45 a.m. he fled.

“I got out of the house, in pretty much what I had on,” he said. “I got my son and we left.”

A two-hour drive southwest, in Pescadero, Lynne Bowman gestured to the trailer where she slept.

“This is where I live now,” Ms. Bowman said. She, her husband and her daughter evacuated their house on Tuesday in 45 minutes, bringing clothes, jewelry and their two dogs, Viggo and Hedy.

Just days earlier, Ms. Bowman was celebrating her daughter’s wedding, a 20-person socially distanced affair. Now, she is contemplating the confluence of catastrophic events in the area.

“Yeah, pandemic, fire,” she said. “I mean, it is apocalyptic in many ways.”

Reporting was contributed by Kellen Browning from Davenport, Calif., Ivan Penn from Burbank, Calif., Jill Cowan from Los Angeles, Shawn Hubler from Sacramento, Henry Fountain from New Mexico, and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Lucy Tompkins and Derrick Bryson Taylor from New York.



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