As acrid smoke billowed toward her Sonoma home this week, Annabelle Davis scooped up her beloved Labrador, “Shy,” and a few other belongings. But instead of fleeing to an emergency shelter, she sought refuge at a sparkling, quiet beach tucked away in a county park about an hour west.
“The air was so thick everywhere else,” said Davis, 58, who fled with her friend, Shawn Harris. “So we came down here. We like it here anyway.”
The pair was among an estimated 300 people who opted not to stay at organized emergency shelters in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, instead chasing solace — and much cleaner air — at Doran Regional Park, with its 2-mile Doran Beach along Bodega Bay.
But their emergency retreat comes with an expiration date — park staff and volunteers said families will have to leave by Friday to make room for vacationers who had booked a spot on the campgrounds a year or more in advance. The park is a year-round haven for camping, fishing, birding, kayaking and hiking.
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