Northern California’s raging wildfires forced a slew of famous athletes to flee a celebrity fundraiser early Monday morning.
Former baseball players Barry Bonds, Bret Saberhagen, Eric Gagne and Joe Carter, as well as former Olympian Dan Jansen, were among those attending a fundraiser hosted by former NFL player Ronnie Lott at the Mayacama Golf Course in California’s wine country.
“It was a crazy, surreal night,” Saberhagen told the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday. “I was out on the balcony at Mayacama when the power went out and sat down, and saw the moon come up, it was very nice. And then I saw the moon turn orange and it started getting lighter and lighter. I saw the fire coming over the ridge and I could hear propane and gas tanks popping.”
Saberhagen and Gagne were among those who helped others staying for the event evacuate their rooms, including at a second hotel to which some were sent after the initial evacuation.
“Eric was yelling, ‘Get up, get up,’ knocking at every door, and when I opened the door, smoke billowed in and I could see areas on fire,” Saberhagen said. “There was a telephone pole on fire, the grounds were on fire, ashes were flying all over the place, and what really scared me was that there was a gas station across the street.”
The wildfires have left at least 10 people dead and 100 others injured, and have destroyed 1,500 residences and buildings. As of late Monday night, firefighters were battling 17 fires across the state, according to authorities.
“I feel terrible for the people who lost loved ones or lost property,” Saberhagen said. “That’s what you think of after something like this. We’re all tired, but we got out with our lives.”