Hailing from Stamford, Connecticut, a California resident described to Eyewitness News on Sunday evening her experiences so close to the wildfires.
Originally from Connecticut, Julie Benefico said the concept of California wildfires is foreign to her. But now living and working in Santa Rosa where the destruction of the fire is centralized, she said it is all too real.
"I just had to come home and grab my valuables,” Benefico said. “And you think about what's important to you in life and not that much. Material things don't seem that important when these things come up.”
The 24 year old described the apocalyptic nature of a town reduced to rubble. She said her apartment was spared, but many people she knows are not so lucky.
“Many of my close friends have lost their homes, actually, half of everybody I see has lost their homes,” said Benefico.
“It's pretty unimaginable and I'm still in shock. I haven't seen anyone seen anyone cry or break down because it doesn't feel real yet."
Firefighters in California said to the media that they are starting to get the upper hand against the wildfires that have been burning in Northern California for the past week.
"So, we are not out of the woods yet,” said Napa County Fire Chief, Barry Biermann. “But, we are making progress out there."
Massive plumes of smoke still blanket California’s wine country as fire crews continue their relentless assault from above.
Benefico, who works in holistic medicine, has been volunteering at shelters and health clinics to help those suffering from physical ailments related to the fires.
"We have been setting up herbal clinics all around the area for fire relief supporting lungs and supporting the anxiety and grief that's coming up,” said Benefico.
For a girl from Connecticut, Benefico said this has been a rude awakening to the power of Mother Nature, but also an awakening to the power of healing and helping others.
"I'm from Stamford, Connecticut, born and raised there. I lived there until just a few years ago, so the wildfires are a pretty foreign concept to me. And they're pretty common out here and the devastation is very real,” Benefico said.
Investigators said it could be weeks before they can pinpoint the exact cause of the fires. Officials said the fires in Sonoma County should be fully contained by Friday.
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