SANTA ROSA — The vast majority of the 42 people confirmed dead in the Northern California wildfires were senior citizens, including 27 identified so far who were older than 70.
Among the victims were several elderly couples who died together.
By Thursday, the identities of 38 of the 42 people had been released either by officials in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Yuba counties or by their families.
Many could not move fast enough to escape the speeding flames. Some likely never heard the frantic calls of friends or honking of neighbors’ cars, possibly their only warnings of danger.
One couple died huddled together in the wine cellar of their home where they had lived for 45 years.
An 80-year-old man never made it past his driveway after getting his 80-year-old wife into the car to escape.
Others survived but had a spouse die.
Caroline Cicero, a USC assistant professor who has worked as a geriatric social worker, says losing a spouse will be a painful road to recovery, especially for older people who may never heal.