A neighborhood turned to ash is perfectly still save a lone postal truck slowly traversing the street. Surrounded by scorched earth, charred car frames and nothing but sticks where houses once stood, a USPS worker forges on delivering mail to a ghost town in Santa Rosa, California, at least where mailboxes remain.

If a picture can paint a thousand words, a short drone video as captured by aerial cinematographer Douglas Thron can teleport you and break your heart. Set to a chilling orchestral score, the footage documents the level of devastation brought to Northern California by merciless wildfires that have burned down entire communities.

Douglas Thron Aerial Cinematographer

As of Thursday, Oct. 12, the fires had killed 29 people, displaced tens of thousands, destroyed 3,500 structures, and ravaged nearly 200,000 acres. Sonoma and Napa counties, known for their wineries, have taken the brunt of the damage.

Nicole Solari, a Napa agent who is currently at the California Association of Realtors’ convention in San Diego, told Inman that “people have no idea what’s going on.” Most think it’s a little brush fire that has been contained, she said. She’s been showing pictures and videos to anyone who takes an interest.

“This is going to change the real estate world for the next couple of years,” Solari said. “They should be thinking about how this will affect the real estate world — how the entire market is going to shift.”

Thron’s bird’s-eye view certainly provides any context you might need to understand. One striking shot shows the flip-a-coin fate of homeowners on the same road where the fire salvaged homes on one side of the street and decimated those on the other.

Danger looms as active fires continue to blaze.

Yet as one Santa Rosa real estate agent who had to evacuate put it: “real estate must go on.” Apparently, so too must the mail.

Email Caroline Feeney

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