As residents in Northern California continue to deal with burning hillsides and homes, and as others continue to assess the destruction in areas where fire has already used up all the "fuel" and isn't likely to return, this drone video arrives helping to frame the destruction in its door-to-door, tragic mundanity.
A US Postal Service worker continued making his rounds Tuesday through the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa, one of the hardest hit and most completely incinerated areas to be struck by the Tubbs Fire. The fire broke out late Sunday night and, fed by extremely high winds, spread into densely populated Santa Rosa in the early morning hours, trapping some residents and not allowing others more than a minute or two to gather children, pets and documents and flee. As of now 23 people have been confirmed dead in the fires, 11 of them from this and one other Santa Rosa neighborhood. 100 to 200 people remain among those reported missing in Sonoma County and elsewhere, and the death toll in the combined Sonoma and Napa fires appears certain to top the 25-person toll of the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm.
The USPS truck can be seen putting mail in whatever mailboxes remain, in the hope that someone would return to receive it. Honestly, it looks more like footage from a Terry Gilliam film than it does real life.
The drone video was shot by aerial cinematographer Douglas Thron. He tells the LA Times that he thought the postal worker was just taking cellphone photos at first, "But then I got a little closer and saw he was delivering mail. He delivered to half a dozen houses or what used to be a house."
USPS SF District Manager Noemi Luna tells the LAT, "The carrier in question was honoring a request by a few customers who were being let back in the fire zone to retrieve personal items. A few customers asked the carrier to leave their mail if the mailbox was still standing because they could not get to the annex to retrieve it."
The Tubbs Fire is only 10 percent contained as of this writing, and a handful of other large fires continue burning with little containment in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. Smaller fires are also burning to the north and east, as well as in Southern California.