California Wildfires

Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman, left, is hugged Sunday by a resident whose home was saved by a strike team from Sonoma County, which included Bill Shubin, right, of the Santa Rosa Fire Department, and Roger Wheeler of Sonoma Valley Fire in Middletown, Calif.

AP photo

Butte native and retired pro cyclist Levi Leipheimer is among thousands of Golden State residents whose homes and businesses have been destroyed by wildfire in Northern California this week.

Bicycling magazine reports that Leipheimer’s Santa Rosa home was destroyed Monday – the same day that an evacuation order was put into place for the Tubbs Fire, which has so far burned 34,200 acres, including in populated areas.

CyclingTips said that Leipheimer was not living in the home at the time of the fire. The home had been up for sale, and much of Leipheimer’s belongings had already been moved out of the home. Nonetheless, Leipheimer lost some of his cycling keepsakes, including ones documenting his participation in the Olympics and Tour de France, the online publication reported Wednesday.

“I know it’s a cliché, but it’s just stuff,” Leipheimer told CyclingTips. “I’m alive. Most of my stuff was already packed up. I didn’t have to escape the fire.”

Leipheimer posted Facebook images of his Santa Rosa home Tuesday.

The photos showed a scene of burned-out rubble and a hazy, smoke-filled sky. In one image, a vehicle stands abandoned with its interior gutted and windows broken out.

“I lost my house but not my home here in Sonoma County. We WILL make it through this,” Leipheimer wrote.

The next day Leipheimer posted more scenes of the devastation.

“Please send your thoughts and prayers to the people of Sonoma and Napa Counties,” Leipheimer said Monday in a post featuring a video.

The video, shot from a car, shows a series of empty lots and structures burned to their foundations.

“So many of my friends, neighbors and my community have lost so much. It’s truly devastating and heartbreaking,” he wrote.

CyclingTips reports that Leipheimer’s house was directly in the path of the Tubbs Fire as it headed west from an area near the city of Calistoga, where authorities believe the fire originated, possibly from a downed power pole.

In addition to the Tubbs Fire, several other active fires continue to ravage Northern California.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reported the fires killed 29 people and destroyed 3,500 structures.


Business Reporter for The Montana Standard.

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