Sonoma County education center destroyed in Kincade Fire

Before the sun came up Wednesday morning, the damage on Highway 128 in Sonoma County was obvious. A smoldering skeleton of a building off the side of the road was one of many destroyed by the Kincade Fire.

“I put a lot of love and energy into that property,” said Brian Curry.

The property was LEAPNow Educational Retreat Center. Caretaker Brian Curry showed a picture of what the main lodge used to look like. A red farm house tucked in a wooded area. On Wednesday morning, the main lodge was nothing but burned remains.

The center was a staple in Sonoma County for decades. It helped young students learn life skills and take college classes during a gap year. It now joins the list of more than 200 other structures taken down by the fire.

“They have 20 years worth of students that have all spent time on that property and grown on that property and it’s touched a lot of lives,” said Curry.

This is especially tough for Curry. He lived in a cabin on the property that was also destroyed, “It was a really crazy night. I left at 2:30 in the morning and I ended up driving around watching the fire, I had nowhere to go,” he said.

When Curry and others are let back into the area off Highway 128, it’ll look very different. Properties are charred, trees have fallen and there’s a lot to figure out as they move forward from the fire.

“I don’t even know full scale of damage is. Obviously it looks like a complete loss. I don’t know what infrastructure is left, I don’t know what hazards there will be,” said Curry.