SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KTVU) - Thousands of people who fled from their homes to escape the North Bay wildfires have been scrambling to find a new place to live.
Flames destroyed more than 5,700 homes, compounding the housing shortage crisis that California was facing before the fire disaster struck.
The past nine days have been rocky for the Gomez-Murray family.
"[We're] kind of frustrated," said Juliana Gomez-Murray, a fifth grader at Hidden Valley Elementary School, where 144 students lost homes in the fire.
"Yeah," chimed in her brother Jack, "We're trying to find a home."
The Gomez-Murrays are a large family with six children. They've been crashing at the house of one their children's soccer teammates, since the Tubbs fire gutted their Santa Rosa neighborhood.
"It's a four-bedroom but they have three kids themselves so there's a lot of people in the house," said mother, Colleen Murray.
Craigslist has been flooded by families like the Gomez-Murrays, anxious to find housing after a week of couch and cot surfing.
"[We've been] house hopping, I don't' know where my tootbrush is!" said Holly Webb, who, along with her husband Gene, lost their home on Hopper Avenue near Coffey Park.
Today the couple scoured the area for an apartment. The problem that so many displaced families are facing is real estate prices and rents that were already sky high before the fires.
"We've been in a housing shortage and then this happened and just multiplied it," said Gene Webb.
This morning the pair met with the manager of Parc Station Apartments, a 150 unit complex off Range Avenue near Coddingtown Mall, not far from the Webb's former home.
"I came here not knowing if I was going to rent a place or not," said Holly Web. "But she had one left!"
The Gomez-Murrays have been responding to Craigslist ads but with no luck.
The kids would like space to play soccer.
"Like a backyard so my brother and I can practice with our dad," said Oliver Gomez-Murray earnestly.
"We just need to find a place and get back on our feet," said Colleen Gomez-Murray, who's hoping to find a place for $3,500 a month or less. She brought the family to a shelter near the Sonoma county Fairgrounds, hoping to find some essentials.
"We're looking for a Pac and Play for my son because, um," she said, choking back years as her voice trailed off for several seconds. "He just [kept] falling off the bed last night," she cried. "I just miss a great big ..." she said,gesturing a bed, but unable to verbalize her thoughts.
Colleen works in the medical industry, her husband, Eliseo is an Uber driver who is unable to work because the family only has one car thanks to the fire.
Their daughter Juliana had one wish...
"[To] be happy again," she said, with a glimmer in her eye.
Hidden Valley Elementary has a donation center set up for all the families of students there that lost their homes in the fires. The center is located at 741 4th Street downtown at the old Stanroy's. If you'd like to reach Colleen Murray directly, she asked that we provide her email address: Murr0304@umn.edu