Sonoma evacuations issued, some staying behind

- Some neighborhoods in Northeast Sonoma are under mandatory evacuation orders but not everyone is obeying the orders to leave.  74-year-old Helmut Emke and his wife, 80-year-old Sharon Emke, are staying put, even though their house has been yellow-tagged by police.

“I feel that we have enough experience together, that we can make an intelligent decision and this morning we were ready to leave because the fire was so large and the fire was so big,” Helmut said.  The Emkes only one of three nearby households who have refused orders to get out. Saturday morning, fire destroyed homes off Castle Road, just a few blocks away from their house.

Sharon Emke says she’s knows it’s against the advice of police to stay but she’s worried about her house. “If something does happen to this house, that’s fine, I’ll lose it before I die,” she said.

Sonoma Valley High School has been transformed into an evacuation center and since Monday, 600 evacuees have received shelter and services there.  Science teacher Dean Knight has been sleeping at the school with his wife since he was forced to evacuate on Monday.

“I’ve never seen a community come together like this.  I didn’t expect it, the generosity of the people in time and supplies,” Knight said.

Gabe Lauderdale of CAL FIRE says staying behind is not only a danger for residents, but to first responders who may rush in to save someone in a fire who’s decided to stay behind.  “It’s not worth staying for property, when you’re life is at stake,” Lauderdale said.

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