10/23/17, Napa/Sonoma Fires


Hi Everyone,

In the midst of the fires currently raging out of control in Northern California, in Napa, Sonoma, Santa Rosa, and neighboring counties, it is a bittersweet moment for me personally that my fun, happy, entertaining, and hopefully engrossing new book “Fairytale” has come out today, at such a sad time. The book takes place in the lush beauty of the Napa Valley, the California wine country. There is intrigue in it, and some of it involves a winery. I hope people will enjoy the book, but it’s hard for me to focus on that now. The fires in the area have been burning since Sunday, wreaking unimaginable destruction. Whole towns are decimated homes have been burning to the ground, lives have been lost, and hearts have been broken over the tragic losses, people crying over losing everything they own to the fire.

For me, Napa is a very special place and we own a home there. My husband and I bought a funny little old farm/ranch when we were first married, over 30 years ago. We turned the farm buildings into little houses and cottages for our many children (most of whom were born after we bought it). We spent every weekend there, and every summer. All of my children’s childhood summers were spent on that old farm we transformed. Its 160 years old, with a Victorian barn, all the structures are wood. We kept the place as the kids grew up, and now they spend time there together, as siblings and adults. There are beautiful old trees around it, an old fashioned porch that surrounds the main house. The entire property is a wonderful gathering place for us, a real old fashioned family home, which is how we use it. They loved it as kids, and went barefoot all summer, and with nine children and their friends, the place was full to the gills every weekend and all summer. ALL our treasured photographs of their childhood are there on the walls, the most treasured possession that we are worried about losing now.

As I write this, for the past 40 hours, all the Napa area is at risk, and on fire. Parts of the burning area look like the end of the world. The fire raced over a hill to the back of our property, and is currently a mile away from the back of our property. We don’t know if we will lose the houses on it or not. The fire jumped the road yesterday. There is no predicting which way it will turn, spurred on by the wind. The smoke is so thick in the area that someone who checked on our houses on the property yesterday said that you could not see the houses, from the driveway 20 feet away, all you could see was smoke.  We were told this morning that our houses there are still standing, but that could change in an instant, as the fire burns on less than a mile away. The smoke has drifted all the way to San Francisco 60 miles away, you can barely breathe in the city, the sky is full of smoke, and this morning I could not see out my windows in the city. It looks like it’s snowing, from the ashes falling on the city. The news is full of devastated people looking at the burned out pile of ash that was their home. It breaks my heart to watch it. A tragedy of this magnitude touches us all.

I have my own memories, and fears, of fire. When I was five years old, sent away to summer camp, the other children and I were woken by the counselors late at night in the midst of a forest fire that had started, we were wrapped in wet blankets and run across a field to safety, with walls of flame around us. I have been afraid of fire ever since, am ever mindful of it, and have at least two smoke detectors in every room, and fire extinguishers always near at hand. And now this…..a fire we can do nothing to stop, devouring everything in its wake. The fire fighters say it will be days before they can fight it, they are still too busy evacuating people, and trying to save lives. Two of my sons were evacuated from our home at 2 am Sunday night, it took them 5 and a half hours to get back to San Francisco, and at every turn they met a wall of flame, and had to find a different route. The area was closed by then, and the video they took is terrifying.

I am devastated by the Napa fires, and the areas around it, heartbroken for those who have lost homes or suffered losses. It is a natural disaster and tragedy we cannot stop. My heart aches for everyone affected. I am so very, very sorry. In a way, I am glad now that I wrote the new book about Napa, to honor it, and bring its beauty to the attention of the world. And in the meantime, my deepest sympathy to everyone affected, and my prayers….and may we all in the area be included in your prayers. We need all the help we can get.


with much love, Danielle

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8 Comments so far
  1. Janine Hewitt October 23, 2017 10:56 am

    I am so sorry for Napa Valley residents and surrounding areas and especially for the loss of life of family members by some. I am sorry for the threat of fire on your property and the potential loss of a place for you with such cherished memories. I hope this terrible fire is controlled and extinguished very soon for all affected. So sad to see this devastation in such a beautiful bountiful area.

  2. Joy October 24, 2017 1:25 am

    I am so sorry and worried about your potential loss. Can someone quickly go in and take pictures of the walls of photos you have hanging up of the children growing up? Please do it quickly!!! Nothing matters more than those, I think. Hurry!!!
    I’ll talk to you later… with my love, Joy

  3. Joy October 24, 2017 2:23 am

    Darn it! I’m sorry, Danielle… I did not realize the timing of the posts. And that it is now too late to save anything. I’m so sorry for your loss, of the wonderful home that gave you and your family decades to grow in happiness. And, that the pictures are gone, too.
    Ground yourself, okay. You are safe. You’re here, not in the fire. You’re here. All your loved ones are safe. Everyone is safe!!! Breathe…

    It is horrible to lose a home and everything in it. I’ve been homeless before, so it is a rude awakening to not have the things that were taken for granted.
    So, this is what happens, even though you did not ask for this- even though you will grieve the loss, the emptiness, the ashes mean a new beginning. A time for a new change in life, a chance to build something new. Something better that would have never occurred to you, until you had the loss.

    So, as you grieve and lick your wounds, remember that you have the most important parts of your life safe- your loved ones and yourself!!! And, in time, when you are ready, you can start anew, and build something new, for the now and future. After all, your family has grown now. Don’t forget, although you dearly loved that house, it was not the house that made it home. It was all the people in it, that made it have meaning!!! Never confuse the two.

    How wonderful, too, that you wrote a novel out of love for one of your homes, and happy times in your life. Now, you will always have that to keep, for yourself!!! You need this one more than us readers do, so I’m very glad that you wrote it. Cherish it, and think of all the happy moments you had in that home… the house may be gone, but your memories still last- embrace them! Be happy, Danielle…

    You’re a good person in heart. Keep going, okay… don’t forget to eat something, even though you may not feel like eating anything. Eating will keep your serotonin levels right, and help you get through this time more easily. Depression stinks, and makes life harder, so eat. Eat anything, have fun!! Just keep going…

    Know that you are dearly loved!!!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  4. Melanie October 24, 2017 6:26 am

    I am in awe of the Fire Fighters who risk so much. They are true heroes!

  5. Christina Goerner October 27, 2017 2:43 pm

    Dear Ms. Steel,

    As a reader of your most wonderful novels, i wish your family all be safe including your pets. I just purchased the novel you mentioned about Napa and thought the serendipity of Napa in your novel as well as the events occurring timely and a universal message. Thank you once again for sharing yourself so openly with your readers, and be safe, always.



  6. Jess November 2, 2017 2:33 pm

    I can very much relate – I grew up in Novato, just West of the fires.Most of my greatest memories reside in the Sonoma and Napa valley area as I attended school there. My family is still in Marin, my brother a firefighter and my cousin a police officer in the nearby area. My fiancé and I are to be married in Sonoma next fall, assuming our venue is still standing.

    Watching all of this happen while being afar is absolutely painful. My fiancé and I currently live in Chicago and we won’t be able to too the damage until we fly back for Christmas. Thankfully our family is safe, but several of our good friends have lost their homes and businesses. Our venue is still there as well.

    I have never been more proud to be a NorCal girl, as this disaster has brought out the best within the communities. I am proud of my brother and cousin for fighting the fires and keeping the peace. I am proud so many are stepping up to help each other find a home. And I am proud so many are taking care of the animals together.

  7. Beulah Lodge November 5, 2017 7:00 am

    Hi, in the book The right time it says the couple married in a Registry Office, could I point out in the UK they are called Register Offices, It is a pet hate of all who work in a Register office (me included, I work at Birmingham Register Office)that a lot of people get it wrong.
    Kind regards
    PS I love your books and have read every one, my favourite is Loving.

  8. Nancy Davis December 1, 2017 6:33 pm

    I read your book FairyTale & really enjoyed it. I am one of your loyal readers. Since you have had family & emotional ties to Napa Valley & surrounding areas, I am wondering if you will help the area with your financial resources the way Dolly Parton did in Tennessee. I pray that you will do so.