Despite surviving the Glass Fire, which destroyed 1,555 structures in the surrounding area, Angwin was considered to be at high risk on Sunday night according to a representative of Cal Fire. (David Sjostedt / Golden Gate Xpress) (David Sjostedt)
Despite surviving the Glass Fire, which destroyed 1,555 structures in the surrounding area, Angwin was considered to be at high risk on Sunday night according to a representative of Cal Fire. (David Sjostedt / Golden Gate Xpress)

David Sjostedt

Small Napa Valley town on edge as winds rise

October 26, 2020

A building’s remains border Deer Park Rd, the sole evacuation route for residents of Angwin. (David Sjostedt / Golden Gate Xpress) (David Sjostedt)

The Napa Valley town of Angwin sits nestled in the serene beauty of Northern California. The long Arms of moss laden trees surround the quaint town that has become increasingly accustomed to the threat of fires. A red flag warning was issued for the region on Sunday afternoon leaving Angwin residents uneasy about the night to come. 

“You don’t really know who has lost what,” Ricky Morris, an Angwin Deli worker said. “Everyone is just walking on eggshells.”

According to Kyi Robinson, who grew up in Angwin, fires were not as present a threat during his childhood. 

“I don’t remember fires being around here,” Robinson said. “All throughout the time I grew up I don’t remember there being any fires here. There might have been one every so many few years as a child that I’ve forgotten about. But this, what’s going on recently and nowadays, unheard of when I was a child.”

Robinson went on to state that he felt the close knit community of Angwin, centered on its Seventh-day Adventist Church, had come together during times of unexpected evacuations.

“We’re all just trying to stay as closely connected as we can with each other,” Robinson said. “You know, to where if a fire does break-out across town and we gotta get out quick that someone would be kind enough to call me as the same I would for them or that anyone around the area would, you know, just look out for one another.”

Deer Park Rd, the slender strip of asphalt that serves as the remote town’s primary connection to the greater Sonoma area was occasionally dotted with the passing traffic of PG&E, AT&T, or Cal Fire trucks.

Kyi Robinson, an Angwin local, said he recently relocated his daughter to her mother’s house out of fear of another evacuation. (David Sjostedt / Golden Gate Xpress) (David Sjostedt)

“They’re up here working on the [telephone] lines that were burnt down from the fire and they’re doing a whole bunch of stuff,” Morris said. 

Locals of the region reported feeling that the fires were occurring with a great level of frequency that each and every year made them feel more personal and closer to home than the previous year. 

For Archie Asare, an African immigrant to the region and employee of the local Pacific Union College, the evacuation process was far from easy. Asare noted that the experience of evacuating Angwin for the first time was “surreal” as he had never been forced to do that during his time as a resident of the town. 

“It is rough, especially elderly families and people with elderly in their homes. So I think the first one, we got used to it pretty quick,” Asare said. “You know, it’s been going on for seven years, at least in a neighboring town. So at least this time, it was surreal.” 

Robinson, a single father living with his daughter, stated that the fires were an ever present burden on his mind. 

“I just pray every day that the fire is not going to come through Angwin,” Robinson said. “There’s a lot of people that you know, they don’t always meet eye to eye but there’s a common bond with everybody that we appreciate…it’s a very diverse place.” 

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About the Contributors
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Paul Kelly
Paul Christopher Kelly is a young Bay Area native of Irish and Nicaraguan descent. He has a familial affinity towards Irish and Latin American writers, such as Oscar Wilde, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Samuel Beckett, and Pablo Neruda. Due to this, his prose frequently features Spanish translations as a companion to the original English. His work has appeared in Transfer, The Golden Gate Xpress, Seen and Heard, El Tecolote, The San Franciscan, and Borderless magazine. For those interested in reading more his website contains samples of his journalistic articles and essays on varying subjects. He can also be reached at [email protected] for further inquiries.

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