As Californians Get Older and Less Mobile, Fires Get Hotter and Faster

PETALUMA, Calif. — Late on the night of Sept. 27, a bumper-to-bumper caravan of fleeing cars, horse trailers, RVs and overstuffed pickup trucks snaked east on Highway 12, the flames of the Glass Fire glowing orange in their rearview mirrors.

With her cat, Bodhi, in his carrier in the back seat, 80-year-old Diana Dimas, who doesn’t see well at night, kept her eyes glued to the rear lights of her neighbor’s Toyota. She and Magdalena Mulay had met a few years before at a bingo night in their sprawling retirement community on the outskirts of Santa Rosa. Both Libras, each with two marriages behind her, the two women soon became the sort of friends who finish each other’s sentences.

Now, for the second time in three years, they heard the alarms and fled together as fire consumed the golden hills of Northern California’s wine country.

“I thought, where on earth

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