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News & Press: D-RiSC

Chris Smith: Former Santa Rosa fire chief predicted a fire like the Tubbs

Saturday, June 16, 2018  
Posted by: Amanda Smith
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My friend the mayor of Santa Rosa was scratching out a living as a freelance Press Democrat columnist in 2012 and was sparked to write about wildfires in Colorado, where he lived before coming to California.

Chris Coursey noted that the Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs, the most destructive in the state’s history, had killed two people, forced the evacuation of 30,000 and destroyed 350 homes.

Chris wrote in July of that year that in Colorado Springs and in Santa Rosa and elsewhere across the country, 10 million homes were built between 1990 and 2008 in or adjacent to the wildland-urban interface, “the zone between city and country where concrete gives way to forest, brush and grass.”

“In Santa Rosa,” he added, “think of areas such as Fountaingrove and Skyhawk.”

Chris recalled in that column that a decade earlier, in 2002, a rash of large fires in Colorado, Arizona, Utah and Southern California prompted him to ask Santa Rosa’s fire chief, Tony Pini, about the likelihood of a similar disaster in formerly wild areas of their city.

Chris recounted that Chief Pini, who would fall ill from cancer and die in 2009 at the age of 62, responded that he had no doubt Santa Rosa would one day suffer the consequences “of putting up houses in areas where fire occurs naturally.”

The chief told Chris, “It will happen here eventually; I know it will.”


THAT SNOOPY PENDANT made from gold salvaged from the charred remains of Jeannie Schulz’s house brought a hefty winning bid in the charitable auction at Mayacama Golf Club, near Windsor.

You may recall that Jeannie found in the ashes some coins collected by her late husband, “Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schulz. Jeannie and Ame and Doug Van Dyke of Santa Rosa’s E.R. Sawyer Jewelers conspired to do something special, and helpful, with some of the precious metal.

The Van Dykes created a gold-and-diamonds pendant that has Snoopy holding a candle. It stole the show at the Schulz Celebrity Golf Tournament, which brought in $1 million for child-focused programs in Sonoma County.

Golfer-philanthropists Suzanne and Dwight Haldan won the storied and unique piece of from-the-ashes jewelry with a bid of $44,000.


DRIVING PRISCILLA: Christopher Kren-Mora reflects fondly on the two weeks that he felt like a celebrity while driving about Sonoma County with Priscilla.

That’s the nickname Christopher assigned to the Subaru Outback that Hansel Subaru dressed in rainbow colors and loaned to Sonoma County Pride in advance of the LGBTQI parade and festival in Santa Rosa.

As a director of Sonoma County Pride, Christopher got to drive the car around to promote the celebrations. He named the car Priscilla after the bus in the 1994 Australian road film, “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”

“It was a head-turner,” Christopher said of the Subaru adorned with rainbow stick-on graphics. “It really put a smile on people’s faces.”

He and Priscilla were parked outside of Pacific Sales and Bed, Bath & Beyond in Santa Rosa when a woman asked him about the car and on the spot phoned Hansel Subaru to say thanks for supporting the cause.

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Spring is upon us and summer will be here before we know it.  Precipitation is lighter than normal and that could mean a heavy fire season is on the horizon. Agencies are in various stages of preparing their organizations for the potential that lies ahead...Continue Reading

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