Napa County Family Narrowly Escapes Atlas Fire

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NAPA COUNTY -- Kris and Whitney Dern know just how lucky they are to be alive.

It was Sunday night when the Napa County couple got into their car with their 3-year-old daughter Stella and made their escape to safety.

They live at the end of Soda Canyon Road, near where the Atlas Fire began.

"The rate of spread was so massive that we had to make a decision on do we stay or do we go," Kris Dern said.

They also heard officers in helicopters on loudspeakers telling residents to "get out."

"The winds were blowing so hard and so fast that the fire spread so quickly and we were behind it," Kris Dern said.

With 80 people stuck up on the hill, the two-way road was initially blocked but, once traffic eventually cleared, a Cal Fire firefighter, escorted a seven-car caravan down the hill.

They were surrounded by flames and all the while, they saw their neighbors' homes burn down.

"You know what the people look like who live there. So who belongs to whose house and, you've been driving that [road] for how many years and then everything's gone. It's devastating," Whitney Dern said.

For now, they're at the Meritage Hotel. But they still don't know if their house is still standing.

"The worry that you have about your home and all your belongings. It consumes you," Whitney Dern said. devastated