(San Francisco Chronicle) Looking down from 7,000 feet, the patchwork of land looked almost like blackened crop fields.

But this was Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 people. These dry and lifeless lots used to be a vibrant, sprawling neighborhood called Coffey Park, full of colorful single-family homes.

From inside an Air National Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk, its doors pulled open, Capt. Will Martin surveyed the damage below, following the streets spotted with driveways that led to nothing but heaps of charred land and cooked cars. The occasional glimmers from the ground came from shards of glass and melted metal.

“I’ve seen a lot of wildfires,” Martin said. “I’ve been with the National Guard for a long time now, but to see entire neighborhoods burnt to ashes is shocking. … The devastation is striking.”

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