Nearly 6,000 homes and other structures burned down in the deadly wildfires that incinerated parts of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties in October. Entire neighborhoods were wiped out. More than 40 people died.
To many, it seemed as if the reconstruction would be arduous but straightforward: Clear the debris, get the permits, start rebuilding. It has been anything but.
Hazardous substances have been found in soils affected by the fire. Septic and water systems have been impacted. Utilities were destroyed. In the Fountaingrove neighborhood north of downtown Santa Rosa, the entire water system will have to be replaced after cancer-causing benzene from melted plastics contaminated it.