Residents in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park return home after evacuation order lifted

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Folks living in and around Coffey Park in Santa Rosa are breathing a sigh of relief tonight as they’re able to return home after evacuation orders were lifted this afternoon. 

Of course the area was completely destroyed two years ago when the Tubbs Fire engulfed their neighborhood, but thankfully they were spared this time around. 

It did bring back some hard memories though.

Not only are they grateful they still have a roof over their heads, but even more so for the several warnings they got before the actual order came down and they had to leave.

Open trunks in driveways and kids carrying clothes inside — the signs of repopulation  could be seen on nearly every corner in and around Coffey Park Wednesday afternoon. 

“Glad to still have a house you know. That was the big thing — would I have a house to come back to?” said one resident in Coffey Park.

Though the flames from the Kincade fire never reached their neighborhoods, the process of evacuating did take a toll 

Jeff Okrepkie lost his Coffey Park home in the Tubbs Fire in 2017.

“It stirred up a lot of emotion. Was hard to focus at first,” he said.

He and his family are still living in a rental home, as their neighborhood rebuilds. 

“I think for me it was more realistic,” Okrepkie said. 

It’s the same story for Rally Garcia and Sherry Fish who were finally able to move back into Coffey Park two months ago.

“We didn’t have to pack too much, cause we didn’t have anything to begin with, but the smell of the smoke brought you back to Tubbs Fire. The sky, the whole eerie environment of October skies. It was a lot of PTSD,” Garcia said.

They say having the early evacuation warnings helped more than anything and though they know this may happen again, they’re not going anywhere

“Had the fire gotten here again, we might have to rethink that, but we love it here, our neighbors are here,” Fish said.

The rebuilding process is still very much underway in Coffey Park. 

Folks say they feel for those  who did lose their homes this time around due to the Kincade Fire.

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