SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP/BCN) — The evacuation warning zones for the Kincade Fire were expanded all the way to the ocean Saturday evening, as more than 30,000 additional residents in the areas west of Healdsburg, from the Russian River Valley all the way to Bodega Bay were told to leave.
“You cannot fight this,” said Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick at a press conference with CalFire Saturday evening. “If you hear the sirens, that means it’s time to go.”
So far, the Kincade fire has scorched almost 26,000 acres, destroyed 77 structures, including 31 homes, and was only 10 percent contained as of 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The latest evacuation warning on Saturday night was for the City of Santa Rosa at 11:20 p.m. Residents were advised to be “read to go,” and keep cellphones on for overnight emergency alerts.
The Sonoma County sheriff announced earlier Saturday that the towns of Healdsburg, Windsor and their unincorporated areas would be evacuated by 4 p.m. as flames from the expanding Kincade Fire driven by “Diablo winds” continued to advance.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s office extended the evacuation zone all the way to the coast Saturday evening. Earlier, the Sheriff’s office added the new warning area to two other potential evacuation zones — the Dry Creek Valley west to Forestville and Larkfield and Mark West Drainage.
The warning areas include about 80,000 residents, authorities said.
An evacuation warning was issued for Santa Rosa. just after 12:45 a.m. Sunday morning.
#KincadeFire Evacuation Warning issued for City of Santa Rosa. All areas starting East of western side of City, North of Guerneville Road, Steele Lane, Lewis Road, and Chanate Road, to Montecito Avenue to Montecito Boulevard to Calistoga Road, North to city limit. (1 of 2)
— Sonoma Sheriff (@sonomasheriff) October 27, 2019
As of shortly before 1 a.m., wind gust were approaching 55 miles an hour in some areas of the North Bay.
Winds are rapidly increasing across the North Bay. Gusts to 55 mph now across the highest peaks. Lots of stations meeting Red Flag criteria and this will increase through the night. #CAwx #CAFire pic.twitter.com/NeFSDr91JT
— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) October 27, 2019
The Sonoma sheriff’s office says inmates at the North County Detention Facility in Santa Rosa was cleared Saturday and inmates were taken to be housed in Alameda County.
A Sutter Health statement says Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital started evacuating roughly 101 patients Saturday night to bring them to other facilities.
Traffic on southbound 101 heading away from the evacuation was slow and bumper-to-bumper as thousands traveled toward a safe haven from the blaze.
“We are announcing an evacuation of approximately 50,000 people,” said Sheriff Essick at a press conference early on Saturday. “We do not take this lightly … We are evacuating because this fire is very dangerous and is expected to move toward Healdsburg and Windsor this evening. The winds that we are going to experience will be much like October 2017.”
“We already have a fire and we have advance notice. We want you to start evacuating now,” he added.
The sheriff’s office said it would be the biggest evacuation in Sonoma County in more than 25 years.
“The winds are expected anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight and, from all reports, they’re expected to be extremely strong,” said Brian Vitorelo with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Deadly and destructive wildfires in Santa Rosa, Napa and Mendocino County in October 2017 caused billions in damage and killed 44 people and injured at least 192 others.
“We need our community members to take these warnings seriously … its time to drop things, pack and go,” said Healdsburg mayor David Hagele, adding that the evacuation center that had been set up in the town for the earlier Sonoma County evacuees would be closed.
“This is a life-threatening situation and a danger to our entire town,” Windsor mayor Dominic Foppoli added at a morning news conference.
The Healdsburg city website urged local residents not to panic.
“Do not panic — you have a few hours to prepare. Please take your emergency go-bag and other essentials and leave by 4 p.m.,” the posted alert read.
Evacuation centers have been set up at:
- Finley Community Center (2060 W. College Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401)
- Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building (1351 Maple Avenue, Santa Rosa 95404)
- Petaluma Fairgrounds (100 Fairgrounds Dr, Petaluma)
- Petaluma Veterans Building (1094 Petaluma Blvd S, Petaluma 94952)
- Petaluma Community Center (320 N McDowell Blvd, Petaluma 94954)
- Sonoma Co. Fairgrounds for large animals only (1350 Bennett Valley Rd, Santa Rosa 05404)
The Kincade Fire grew overnight to 25,455 acres and was 10 percent contained as of Saturday morning, Cal Fire officials said. Smoke from the fire streamed over San Francisco, triggering a spare the air warning.
No fatalities have resulted from the blaze but 49 structures have been destroyed and another 23,500 are threatened.
An evacuation warning was issued Friday night for residents of the Cobb Mountain area in Lake County and some surrounding communities in northern Sonoma County.
— CAL FIRE LNU (@CALFIRELNU) October 26, 2019
All roads east of Highway 101 in the Geyserville area are closed.
A total of 2,090 fire personnel have been deployed to fight the blaze and several air tankers from throughout the state are flying fire suppression missions.
The fire started Wednesday at 9:27 p.m. at Kincade and Burned Mountain roads, according to Cal Fire.
High winds this weekend could ground water-dropping aircraft, disperse fire retardant and drive hot embers far ahead of the flames to set new blazes, Cal Fire Division Chief Jonathan Cox said.
“You can’t fight a fire that’s spotting ahead of itself a quarter of a mile, half a mile, in some cases a mile ahead of itself,” he said.
No cause has been determined for any of the current fires but PG&E said a 230,000-volt transmission line near Geyserville had malfunctioned minutes before that fire erupted Wednesday night.
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