The road to humanity: A compilation of stories from the Kincade Fire

Humanity 2 420x279On October 27, nearly 400 Northern Californians sought refuge at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. People arrived in various states of readiness, some at peace, some in distress. And many of them experienced transportation issues before even reaching the Red Cross shelter.

One woman recounts the overwhelming sense of hopelessness she felt after her vehicle broke down in a remote part of the valley. Passersby did not stop. “I was beginning to lose hope,” she said. Startled by a car horn, she looked up to find her friend driving down the hillside. “Get in!” The Sonoma County resident explains, “There’s nothing in this world like a good friend.”

Humanity 420x279 copyMichael Taylor continues to struggle to get back on his feet following the Tubbs Fire. He remains positive with a fresh outlook on life. “It took me to lose everything to gain everything,” says Taylor. After the shelters closed, he moved into his van. The Marin County native was asleep in a parking lot when his dog alerted him to the Kincade Fire. “My dog saved my life,” he claims.

Lisa Benning and her son, Sean Egan, watched the flames from Parkland Farms Boulevard. They, like many others, rely on Sonoma County Transit. A neighbor offered the family a ride after the buses stopped running. “We had our bags packed,” says Benning. This was their second evacuation. They also brought their cat to the Red Cross shelter.

While the memory of past fires scorched the minds and hearts of many, it also cleared room for growth in preparedness and giving. People helping people keeps the community safe in emergencies. These simple stories highlight humanity.


You can help people affected by disasters like wildfires and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small.

  • Call, click, or text to give: visit, call 1-800 RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • To donate by check or to a specific cause, please complete the donation form on and print and mail to your local Red Cross chapter.
  • The Red Cross honors donor intent. Donors can designate their donation to relief efforts for the California wildfires by indicating this in the memo line of a check or in the donation form.

Lindsay R. Peak is a volunteer writer with the Northern California Coastal Region.