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California wildfires scorch The Golden Coast

Daniela Detore

After a 3-0 victory over Mount Holyoke College on Tuesday, Oct. 10, the women’s volleyball team improved their NEWMAC record to 4-3. After the straight set sweep over the Blue, the Pride retreated to the visiting locker room in South Hadley to gather their belongings  and return to the Prides den.

Choking back tears, Junior, defensive-specialist from Stockton, Calif., Hannah Lozano stood still in a sea of celebrating Springfield College women volleyball players. Blaring music and dancing was not enough to keep the tears from rolling down her face.

One by one, they fell.

Sinking down, her back dragged down the unfamiliar blue lockers till she found the floor, her stomach still going. Hugging her knees, she swallowed hard.

Lozano’s heart was ablaze in northern California amongst 22 wildfires that have touched upward towards 221,700 acres of land.

“My mom right before the game was saying how the fires are really bad,” Lozano said. “The closest one was about 40 minutes outside of my grandparents house. So my immediate reaction was ‘Oh my god, my grandma and grandpa.’”

In the midsts of an unfamiliar October heat wave in Massachusetts, temperates reached 80 degrees on a consistent basis, yet, Lozano was chilled to the bone.

“My family was in fight or flight mode,” she said.

In an article written by the Washington Post, governor Jerry Brown said that the wildfires, that displaced over 100,000 people, were one of the greatest tragedies California has ever seen.

All residents hoped for the five to 10 minutes to collect their valuables before vacating their homes and leaving them to be consumed by the fury. However, for most of Northern California, the fires came at night.

Those hopeful five to 10 minutes, were cut down to five to 10 seconds.

“In the fight or flight moment I would have made sure my family was out,” Lozano hinted to the worst case scenario,“I also would have grabbed a family photo just in case.”

Lozano claimed that all material objects are easily replaceable that it is ultimately her family, and her kitten Milo, that she would be most concerned with saving if the fires reached her hometown of Stockton, Calif.

The residents of the ‘Golden Coast’ stared into hell on earth as the coast was ablaze for more than two weeks, with a death roll reaching 40. Smoke smothered the sky of the hilly Napa and Sonoma county as ‘Nuns Fire’ and ‘Tubbs Fire’ battered the renowned vineyards.

“The scariest moment was my grandpa calling me driving to work and him not being able to see because the smoke was that bad,” Lozano said.

Napa and Sonoma county are famous for their numerous vineyards, taking up 10 percent of the wine industry in California and registering more than a million dollars in annual revenue.

“A week before the fire started my family was actually planning on going to the wineries [in Napa Valley] when I came home in the summer,” Lozano said.

Attending school across the country Lozano only returns to the west coast during winter break and for summer break. This summer Lozano will turn 21 and her ideal birthday was going to the gorgeous vineyards in Napa Valley.

She said that a week later she saw the ruins of the once beautiful vineyards.

Like an old record player needle scratching the same part of a disc over, and over, and over again, Lozano watched the continuous loop of videos on the news of the Napa Valley vineyards burning. Row, to row, for days the vineyards burned, and still burn with the hopes of being 100 percent contained by Friday.

“You don’t know what you have till it’s gone,” Lozano said.


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