This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
In the early hours of Monday morning, Robert Geary took a harrowing trip out of harm’s way as fires encroached on his home in Clearlake, California. “We followed the fire truck out in our van,” says Geary, a member of the Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians. “The fire was on both sides of the road, and we could feel the heat. We had our three youngest kids lying down under a blanket so they wouldn’t be so scared.” Two older children drove the family’s other vehicle, leading a small convoy of cars with elders. Geary and the other residents of Elem’s 13 homes made it out safely through the flames.
Geary says that the winds were so strong in his Lake County-area rancheria that the tops of electric poles sheared off, and wires and transformers struck the ground.
The Elem Colony is one of four tribes in Lake County, north of San Francisco, where fires have already burned more than 100,000 acres and killed more than 30 people. Many of Napa, Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino counties’ 21 tribal communities are feeling the impact of the fires, as membe... Read more