When disaster approaches, the body camera of first responders and eyewitness accounts are the best way to get an idea of what it's like to face a life-or-death situation.
This past year has seen some of the largest, longest, most destructive wildfires in California history. Some survivors have described the approach of a wildfire as "Armageddon." In Coffey Park, a Santa Rosa neighborhood devastated by the 2017 Tubbs Fire, the reality of their situation came into focus very quickly.
"A bunch of other neighbors came and were just standing in the middle of the street," Jeff Okrepkie, resident of Coffey Park, said. "One of our neighbors came running around the corner as fast as she could and she was like, 'It hopped the 101.' It was like a second of stunned silence, and then we just ran into our homes and started to evacuate."
Body cam footage from local police, firefighters, and city buses tell tales of frantic evacuations, and show images of a hellish landscape of burning buildings and blowing embers. Even first responders were overwhelmed.
Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Aldridge found himself trapped with dozens of evacuees.
"I told dispatch, 'I'm stuck. I've got three dozen people with us'," Aldridge said.
The fire came within 100 yards of where he and the others were forced to wait it out and hope for the best. Over a year later, Aldridge still feels the effect of that chaotic night.
"There's been times I walk outside, and I get nervous, but you shake it off and go to work," Aldridge said. "It was definitely something I don't want to do again. Once in a lifetime is enough."