Credit: Katie Ambrosi

California fires have become hurricanes in Florida. An annual drama. In one week, "Kincade Fire" has devoured over 31,000 hectares in the wine-growing region of Sonoma County, north of San Francisco. All of California was placed under a state of emergency last Sunday by Governor Gavin Newsom. Wednesday, October 30, the fire was contained at 30%. On his way, he destroyed 206 buildings, while some 90,000 are still threatened by flames, according to Cal Fire.

One image has particularly turned on the televisions of the world: that of the property of Soda Rock Winery, on the road 128 (Wine road), on fire. Spared by the fires of 2017, the tasting room, built in 1869 and which hosted many receptions (wedding wine tasting), was one of the most emblematic places in the region. A tragedy that directly affected Normandy Isabelle Adams, director of events and tasting room of the wine estate for 10 years. After the repurchase of the structure reopened in 2010, she helped to remodel and decorate it.

"It's the shock. Since I learned, my heart is loose, it's hard to breathe. It was my second home. My daughter got married, with a lot of memories "says the 59-year-old, who learned the bad news via her husband on Sunday, October 27, before seeing the photographs in the press. "It's a mourning, even if it remains material." Her heart heavy and her tears abundant, she clings to the reconstruction, which will take time. "You have to take inventory of parts for insurance, change the reservations for events, put some employees back in vineyards"she lists. She has not yet had the opportunity to return to the scene (only the barn could be saved). "A colleague went there, and picked up for me the handle of the front door", loose Isabelle Adams between two sobs. Only consolation prize: the vines having been harvested upstream, the wine is already fermenting. And the Soda Rock Winery will know a vintage 2019.

In recent days, the French remembers everything that has been lost: the decor built during her almost 10 years of work in Soda Rock, with old barrels, the winegrocers turned into a tasting table, a part from the cellar gone up in smoke. With his colleagues (some of the 280 employees who had the structure), they planned to go together on the scene, next week, with champagne, "History of commemorating".

All of them hold on thanks to the solidarity they receive. Messages of support rain and heal the heart of Isabelle Adams. "I can not answer everyone"she assures, moved. And solidarity is expressed particularly in the wine sector. While Soda Rock Winery had helped two-year-old Paradise Ridge Winery host parties for her, the Santa Rosa winery wanted to return the favor.

This fire is a drama for the Frenchwoman, who was entirely devoted to the place. Fortunately, she is doing better from a personal point of view. After spending three days without electricity in his home in Healdsburg, "In camping mode and without water"Isabelle Adams and her husband evacuated in time on Saturday, October 26. "We knew the lights were dangerous, Highway 128 was closed. We took suitcases, papers, and Halloween costumes for my grandchildren – and we went north, like everyone else. "she recalls. Finally, they will take shelter in a "timeshare" on the side of Lake Tahoe. It's been almost 5 days. From now on, the cities have been reopened, accessible by proving their identity. But Isabelle Adams does not plan to return home right away: "The house is only covered with ashes. But we are still without electricity. " She prefers to enjoy the fresh air and to rest at a friend's house in Reno.

Like Isabelle Adams, few French people in northern California appealed to associations (San Francisco Bay Home and Hand in the Hand), which came to the aid of the victims, in collaboration with the French Consulate in Paris. San Francisco. For the second year in a row, the Main in the Hand network has set up a "telephone crisis cell". "Since Sunday, we have received 40 accommodation proposals"says Sophie Suberville, one of the co-founders of the network. "However, we have not received any request for help, no French had his home directly affected, according to the island leaders." But, anticipating the disasters of last year, the association has taken the lead, organizing a particular harvest of clothing.


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