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As of Monday evening, October 9, 2017, communities of the Orthodox Church in America in California’s Sonoma and Napa counties have been spared in the wildfires that have killed at least ten people, destroyed 1,500 homes and businesses and sent thousands fleeing as flames raged unchecked.
According to media reports, the fires broke out nearly simultaneously and then exploded overnight. Two hospitals in Santa Rosa, the region’s largest city with 175,000 people, were forced to evacuate patients.
“Glory to God—it looks as though the churches and monasteries in the area have been spared,” reported His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West. “The nuns of Our Lady of Kazan Skete in Santa Rosa were evacuated to Petaluma, but last word is that the Skete has not been harmed as fire fighters struggle to contain the fire to the north.”
Santa Rosa’s faithful gathered on Monday evening at the city’s Saint Seraphim Cathedral, also untouched by the fires, where a Service of Thanksgiving was celebrated by Archpriest Lawrence Margitich, Pastor.
“Really, this is an absolute miracle so far,” said Archbishop Benjamin. “As far as we know, all the parishioners’ homes are untouched. Some were in neighborhoods where most of the other houses had burned. While everyone has ‘checked in,’ things look good so far—and ongoing prayers are requested and most appreciated.”
Additional information will be posted as it is received.