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Santa is Safe, and Other Thoughts From the River Fire.

Pauline Nevins  August 28, 2021 - Auburn Journal


The call came. We were in the evacuation warning zone of the River Fire. I wished I’d paid more attention when my hiking friend, Virginia, mentioned she had a go-bag ready. I thought about it, then forgot about it.

Now my husband and I were scurrying around, struggling to get the suitcase from a top shelf in the basement. What should I pack?

Then I remembered the email from Placer County Supervisor Cindy Gustafson I’d skimmed the day before, meaning to read later. It contained her newsletter: “August is Here.” Immediately visible is a link to a CAL FIRE pamphlet entitled: WILDFIRE IS COMING … ARE YOU READY TO GO!

The email arrived one day before the River Fire exploded at the Bear River Campground, fewer than 5 miles from our house. I packed a suitcase. We waited, watched and listened.

A KVMR radio station host confirmed evacuation areas, read zone numbers and each street within those zones. Pascale Fusshoeller, editor of, provided real-time fire updates for the station and on the website. I perk up whenever I hear her distinctive accent.

On an internet site, I located a map of the River Fire with evacuation zones listed – all in Nevada County. I couldn’t see zones listed for Placer County. Considering these frequent wildfires, shouldn’t all areas have zone numbers we memorize like our zip and area codes? I now know I should have checked the Placer County Sheriff’s website for Placer information. Two days later, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office lifted the evacuation warning for our area.

Now out of danger, I could focus on others. I knew they evacuated some Chicago Park residents.

In years past, I volunteered at the Colfax Winterfest as one of Santa’s Elves. Santa had a summer home in Chicago Park. I phoned him. No answer.


































































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