LAKE BERRYESSA (CBS SF) — A fire erupted at Lake Berryessa in Napa County and it has already forced evacuations and left a trail of destruction.
The blaze was dubbed the ‘Steele Fire.’
The fire started around 4:30 p.m. in the hills of the south shore of Lake Berryessa. The flames quickly moved up a hillside and engulfed homes on Headlands Drive.
The fire charred 100 acres in about an hour, according to Cal Fire. By 11 p.m. it had spread to 150 acres and was 10 percent contained.
Firefighters on the ground along with helicopters and air tankers tried to save as many homes as possible, but 7 burned to the ground.
As of 7 a.m. Sunday, Cal Fire reported good overnight progress and 50 percent containment.
Johnny Johnson watched as he saw the flames reach his neighbors homes.
“Propane tanks and cars were blowing up right up the road,” he said. “You could see flames shooting straight up like a jet engine, it was definitely a propane tank.”
A mandatory evacuation order was issued for the roughly 200 residents living in the area, but Johnson refused to go.
“My wife left, I told them I ain’t going. I’m going to try to save my house,” he said.
For those living in the area, this fire brings up memories of what the community endured just last October. Many here learned a big lesson then and were already prepared to leave at a moments notice.
“At the beginning of fire season we gathered everything we could think of that we needed or wanted, in case, and put it all in one area so if something like this happened, we could pretty much get all the stuff we can’t replace out,” said one neighbor.
Firefighters say along with the seven homes, the fire burned roughly 150 acres. Even with all the other fires burning in California, this one became one of their top priorities with the number of homes in danger.
“Sent a very aggressive initial attack, forces. This community having about 200 homes on these ridge tops out in the wild land, basically one way in and one way out – it was very critical to get resources up here,” said Cal Fire Division Chief Mike Wilson.
“Everybody up here fought heroically to save these dwellings,” said Johnson. “They did everything they could.”
Soon after the fire started, images began to circulate on social media. Swimmers at Oak Shores Park captured video of planes flying low over the flames to drop bright red fire retardant in an attempt to stop the spread.
On Snapchat boaters got shots of huge plumes of dark smoke filling the sky.
Napa County Sheriff’s Office has issued a mandatory evacuation for Steel Canyon from Rimrock Drive to Headlands Drive in the Berryessa headlands area.
According to officials, multiple structures were threatened.
— Shawn Reed (@swkreed) July 28, 2018
An evacuation shelter has been set up at the Crosswalk Community Church on First Street, in Napa.
The mandatory evacuation order will stay in place through Sunday, according to fire officials.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Meanwhile, there were dozens of fires burning across California.
The deadly Carr Fire exploded overnight and has destroyed hundreds of homes. At least 14 people were missing, and a grandmother and two children died in the blaze, bringing the death toll to five.