NAPA (CBS SF) — A series of wind-whipped wildfires have devastated the North Bay wine region and neighboring counties, killing at least ten people, burning at least 1,500 homes and buildings, and forcing thousands of evacuations.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said seven people were killed in Sonoma County. Two people were killed in Napa County and at least one person was killed in Mendocino County, according to Cal Fire.
There have been an unknown number of injuries reported. Mendocino County Sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Gregory L. Van Patten told KPIX 5 his office was anticipating “multiple fatalities.”
TUESDAY UPDATE: Wine County Wildfires Continue Advance; 13 Dead, 15 Active Fires
A Sonoma County sheriff’s sergeant said casualties were expected. “The fire was too big and too fast, and it happened at night,” Sgt. Spencer Crum said.
Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal said, “Blocks and blocks of neighbors were completely destroyed.”
“The volume of residences, multi-family units and commercial buildings is pretty incredible,” Lowenthal said.
Sonoma County received more than 100 missing-person reports, as family and friends scramble to locate loved ones while wildfires ravage the state.
Scott Alonso, communications director for Sonoma County, says the reports have come via calls to a hotline the county set up for the missing. It is possible that many or most of the missing are safe but simply can’t be reached because of the widespread loss of cell service and other communications.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott says an estimated 20,000 people have been evacuated and a number of residents are missing.
A sunset-to-sunrise curfew was imposed in the city of Santa Rosa and the acting police chief said officers would be on the lookout for looters.
Acting police Chief Craig Schwartz said Monday the curfew will be enforced in a mandatory evacuation zone, with violators possibly subject to arrest.
Other officials said they were beginning to get reports of looting in areas affected by fires.
Cal Fire said there were at least 15 separate fires burning in the region, burning more than 73,000 acres as of Monday afternoon, in Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Nevada, Calaveras and Mendocino counties.
Most of the structures burned were in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties, Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized federal funds to help battle six wildfires in the Northern California counties of Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Mendoncino, Butte, Nevada and Yuba counties.
FEMA said it activated its Regional Response Coordination Center in Oakland in order to support local emergency officials. A FEMA team was also coordinating with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
Gov. Jerry Brown has issued a state of emergency as a result of the fires burning in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.
California Highway Patrol officials said their Golden Gate Division Air Operations helicopter crews have rescued 42 people in the various fires burning in the North Bay from late Sunday night to Monday.
CHP officials said on the agency’s Facebook page that those saved ranged in age from 5 to 91 years old, including a man who waited at the scene for a second CHP helicopter to ensure his wife and 5-year-old child had a spot in the first helicopter on the scene.
Extent of fires as of 8:30 p.m. PT
The Atlas Peak fire was the largest of the Napa County blazes and had burned 25,000 acres.
Meanwhile, the fire that started on Tubbs Lane near Calistoga had grown to 27,000 acres and has spread into Sonoma County and parts of Santa Rosa. The fire burned a number of buildings and sent several people to the hospital to be treated for burns.
Cal Fire said the Redwood Complex Fire in Mendocino County, which includes the Redwood and Potter fire, was at 19,000 acres. The Patrick Fire in Napa was at 3,000 acres and Nuns Fire in Sonoma County was at 5,000 acres.
Two hospitals in Santa Rosa were evacuated — the Kaiser Permanente Hospital and Sutter Hospital. Much of the Journey’s End mobile home park behind Kaiser hospital had been turned to ashes and the Fountain Grove Inn and Hotel had burned to the ground.
Another hotel in Santa Rosa, the Hilton, was also engulfed in flames from the Tubbs fire.
As was a Santa Rosa gun store.
The Napa Valley Vintners association said most wineries were closed Monday because of power outages, evacuation orders and the inability of employees to get to work.
The trade association said Monday that it does not have verifiable information on winery buildings that burned down or the impact the fires would have on the 2017 harvest.
Workers had picked most grapes for the season before fires broke out.
The wind-driven wildfires came as Napa and Sonoma counties were finishing highly anticipated harvests of wine grapes. Workers on Monday should have been picking and processing the ripe grapes that would make chardonnay and other wines.
At least two wineries were destroyed and many others damaged.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox said firefighters were focusing on rescues and not battling flames.
“We are in a life and preservation mode to get people out to safety,” he said. “This fire is moving extremely quickly. It is very dynamic. This is a once-in-a-lifetime fire.”
Evacuations were ordered in Santa Rosa, Napa, Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Rohnert Park. Helicopter video showed a neighborhood with several homes burned to the ground in Santa Rosa.
The following neighborhoods were evacuated in Santa Rosa:
- Cross Creek Road
- Sky Farm Drive
- Saint Andrews Drive
- All residences north Fountaingrove Parkway
- Montecito Heights
- The Hopper Avenue Area West of Coffey Lane (Between Dennis Lane and Hopper Avenue to the north and south and Coffey Lane and Barnes Road to the east and west)
- All residences east of Fulton Road, between Piner Road and Guerneville Road
A temporary shelter was open at the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael for people affected by the fires in Napa and Sonoma counties. The shelter holds up to 2,000 people but has no cots or sleeping quarters.
Residents can get information about evacuation centers and road closures by calling 211. Road closure information can also be found on the
Caltrans website at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov.
Early Monday morning, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department said fires had erupted at Mark West Springs and Riebli roads in Santa Rosa, at Shiloh and Conde roads in Windsor and at Highway 116 and Fredericks Road in Sebastopol.
The California Highway Patrol said the fires have shutdown Highway 101 in Santa Rosa and Highway 12 at the Napa-Sonoma border.
The blazes had stretched Sonoma and Napa counties firefighting resources to the breaking point. A call for mutual aid was issued to other Bay Area fire departments and also throughout the state. Firefighters were traveling from as far away as Southern California to join the battle against the blazes.
The National Weather Service had issued a red flag warning for the Bay Area early Sunday through Tuesday, predicting gusty winds and dry conditions. Gusts were predicted to be in the 30-50 mph range in the area of the fire.
The rapidly moving Atlas Peak fire was visible throughout Napa Valley and heavy smoke was draping over the region Sunday night. Cal Fire said the blaze broke out on Atlas Peak Road just south of Lake Berryessa at 9:50 p.m.
Authorities said the blaze quickly moved toward the Silverado Trail — an area dotted with homes and wineries. Officials said the Silverado Country Club — site of this week’s PGA Tour tournament — was evacuated. An evacuee told KPIX 5 that the 12th hole at the famed golf course had been damaged by flames.
Flames were also burning near the Domaine Carneros winery.
Mandatory evacuation were for homes on Atlas Peak Road, including Silverado Country Club; Knights Valley to Tubbs Lane in Calistoga; Partrick Road; Monticello Road to Circle Oaks Subdivision; the Montecito area of Napa; the Wooden Valley area and Soda Canyon Road.
Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean said there was no containment of Atlas Peak fire at 12:30 a.m. Monday with winds blowing at 28 mph and the humidity at just 12.
“Very, very volatile fire conditions,” McLean said.
The Napa Valley Register was reporting that authorities were going house to house just north of Silverado Resort urging residents to leave. The paper said there were reports of at least three structures burning on Atlas Peak.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued in Solano County for both Joyce Lane and Twin Sisters Road in Fairfield.
Napa officials said three evacuation centers had been opened — at the Crosswalk Community Church on First Street, at the Napa County Fairgrounds and the gym at Napa Valley Community College. In Calistoga, an evacuation center was opened at the Calistoga Fairgrounds.
For longtime Napa Valley residents, the massive fire rekindled memories of the 1981 Atlas Peak wildfire. In that blaze, 23,000 acres were burned, $36 million was done in damage, 65 structures were destroyed and 11 people were injured.
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