A 51-year-old woman who survived the Las Vegas massacre returned to California only to have her home in Santa Rosa destroyed by the spreading wildfires.
“Last Sunday, I was running from bullets,” Michella Flores told Fox-KTVU. “This Sunday, I was running from fire.”
Flores witnessed firsthand the deadliest mass shooting in American history at the Route 91 Harvest festival, which she watched from outside a fence, as the gunfire started to hit the crowd, killing 58 on Oct. 1.
Flores, who worked as a firefighter and paramedic before her current jobs as a part-time flight attendant and customer service representative at Kaiser Air in Santa Rosa, told KTVU that she was driving home when she saw the glow of the fire on a hillside.
— infowe (@infowe) October 15, 2017
She was sharing a rental house there with her parents but had planned a move to another part of the city.
She had told her parents to pack emergency to-go bags in case and then went out to walk her dog. She also tuned into a dispatch service which alerted her that the fire had spread to their street.
Her parents evacuated in time, but Flores stayed to fight the fire by grabbing a garden hose and joining two other firefighters who tried to keep the blaze from spreading to other homes on Sullivan Street.
Flores worked until 4:30 a.m, then drove to the airport for work. She thought the house might be able to survive the blaze, KTVU reported.
But when she returned, she found the fire had devoured the house and almost everything she owned inside.
“Right now, I’m in this space where things need to get done,” she told KTVU. “And I’ll deal with the rest later on.”
Flores told KTVU that she is still struggling to deal with the tragedy she experienced earlier in Vegas.
“Believe me. This will hit me,” she said.
The California wildfires is the deadliest in the state’s history. As of Oct. 15, at least 40 people have been killed and whole neighborhoods in the state’s wine country have been reduced to ash.
Two of the three deadliest blazes were more than half contained by Sunday, making it safe enough for law enforcement to begin inspecting some evacuated areas in hard-hit Sonoma County, according to the county sheriff’s office.
Only after those inspections are complete will they decide when it is safe for residents to return home. Some 5,700 structures have been destroyed by more than a dozen separate wildfires that ignited a week ago and have since consumed an area larger than New York City.
Those evacuated are looking forward to going home, at least those whose homes still stand.
“The skies are blue,” Don Martini, a 69-year-old retired carpenter, said after waking up at the Sonoma Raceway campgrounds, where he had spent the previous four days with only smoke and smog overhead. “I haven’t seen a blue sky since this whole thing started.”
Some at the raceway evacuation center hoped to return to their homes on Sunday.
But the fast-moving fires north of San Francisco remain a danger, with thousands more people ordered to leave their homes on Saturday as the death toll crept upward.
Hundreds of people remain unaccounted for or missing.
Reuters contributed to this report.