Years needed to recover from fires

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — It will take at least months and likely years to fully recover from devastating wildfires that ripped through Northern California earlier this month, destroying at least 8,900 structures and killing 42 people, Sonoma County officials said Saturday.

“We don’t control these things, and it makes you realize how small you are in the world when something like this happens,” Sheriff Rob Giordano said. “I don’t think we understand the level at which it is going to impact lives, and the community will be different.”

Giordano spoke before hundreds of people gathered at a college in Santa Rosa, one of the hardest-hit cities, for a memorial service to honor the lives lost in the deadliest series of wildfires in California history. The fires sparked Oct. 8, eventually forcing 100,000 people to evacuate.

Giordano and other officials praised the ordinary and extraordinary acts of heroism by first responders and community members as the firefight raged on for more than a week.

“The night of Oct. 8, we were all tested,” Santa Rosa fire Chief Tony Gossner said.

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and five members of Congress spent Saturday attending the memorial.