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The fire was fueled by dry brush, native Oak trees, and homes as it climbed up and over the well established Mark West and Fountaingrove skyline that over looked the city of Santa Rosa.

One exception to the destruction in that area was that all of the more than 1000 animals at the renowned Safari West Wildlife Preserve northeast of Santa Rosa were unharmed by the fire, saved by owner Peter Lang, who single-handedly fought back the flames for more than 10 hours using only garden hoses.

Those who entered without permission were subject to harsh penalties.

In 1867, the county recognized Santa Rosa as an incorporated city and in 1868 the state officially confirmed the incorporation, making it officially the third incorporated city in Sonoma County, after Petaluma, incorporated in 1858, and Healdsburg, incorporated in 1867. The city continued to grow when other early population centers declined or stagnated, but by 1900 it was being overtaken by many other newer population centers in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California.

According to a 1905 article in the Press Democrat newspaper reporting on the "Battle of the Trains", the city had just over 10,000 people at the time.

By the 1850s, a Wells Fargo post and general store were established in what is now downtown Santa Rosa. Census, in 1870 Santa Rosa was the eighth largest city in California, and county seat of one of the most populous counties in the state.

In the mid-1850s, several prominent locals, including Julio Carrillo, son of Maria Carrillo, laid out the grid street pattern for Santa Rosa with a public square in the center, a pattern which largely remains as the street pattern for downtown Santa Rosa to this day, despite changes to the central square, now called Old Courthouse Square. Census records, among others, show that after California became a state, Santa Rosa grew steadily early on, despite initially lagging behind nearby Petaluma in the 1850s and early 1860s. Growth and development after that was steady but never rapid.

Before the arrival of Europeans, the Santa Rosa Plain was home to a strong and populous tribe of Pomo natives known as the Bitakomtara.

The Bitakomtara controlled the area closely, barring passage to others until permission was arranged.However, some, like the rough-stone Northwestern Pacific Railroad depot and the prominent Empire Building (built in 1910 with a gold-topped clock tower), still survive.A scene at the bank was filmed at the corner of Fourth Street and Mendocino Avenue (at present day Old Courthouse square); the KRESS building on Fourth Street is also visible. The Coen brothers' 2001 film The Man Who Wasn't There is set in Santa Rosa c. Santa Rosa grew following World War II, because it was the location for Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Santa Rosa, the remnants now located in southwest Santa Rosa.Santa Rosa continued as a major center for civil defense activity (under the Office of Emergency Planning and the Office of Emergency Preparedness) until 1979 when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created in its place, ending the civil defense's 69-year history.When the City Council adopted the city's first modern General Plan in 1991, the population was about 113,000.Famed director Alfred Hitchcock filmed his thriller Shadow of a Doubt in Santa Rosa in 1943; the film gives glimpses of Santa Rosa in the 1940s.

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