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Symphony Members Recover After Close Calls with Recent Lake County Fires


Although the cooler weather has helped tame the flames, the fires in Lake County continue to burn. The Rocky Fire is reported to be 100 percent contained, and firefighters are currently in the process of extinguishing the Jerusalem Fire. The catastrophe has affected hundreds of households, including some belonging to Symphony of the Redwoods members.

Beth Aiken, our principle oboe, has been a resident of Kelseyville for over 25 years.  “We are currently in the process of remodeling our house and have been storing our new kitchen appliances outside,” explained Aiken. “After a night out, we got home to find everything covered in ash. We are still cleaning up the mess.”  This was the extent of the damage for Aiken; however others were not as fortunate.

Symphony violist Jeff Ives and his family were in one of the homes required to evacuate. “We heard about it initially starting and watched the smoke grow every day,” said Ives. “We could see it through a gap in the hills, it just kept getting bigger. After a few days, the fire had almost completely surrounded us. ”

As a Lake County resident for 15 years, Ives followed the news and waited for an official word from Cal Fire. “There was a knock on the door around 8pm on Sunday the 2nd; we were told it was a mandatory evacuation.” Electronics and personal valuables were not the only things Ives had to prioritize during his brief exit. “We have one dog and six cats. It was a challenge to wrangle all the animals,” said Ives.  “One cat stayed behind, we left some food and water and hoped for the best.” They retreated to Clearlake Oaks, on the edge of another evacuation zone. “We were out of the home for five days. Luckily our house was untouched by the fire and our cat was fine.”

This was not the first time Aiken or Ives was affected by a local wildfire. “About 30 years ago when I was living in Hidden Valley, there was a fire that caused us to evacuate,” said Aiken. “I could see the smoke as I was driving home from work. It all happened so fast.”

“In 2012, the Wye fire was down the ridge in our backyard,” said Ives. “The fire department surrounded our house and applied fire retardant, so we were not required to evacuate that time. Everything remained undamaged.”

Cal Fire has estimated the containment of the Jerusalem Fire for tomorrow, Monday the 17th.  Click here for updates.


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