SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency Tuesday as wildfires raged across the San Francisco Bay Area, charring thousands of acres and forcing dozens from their homes from Wine Country to the South Bay.
Newsom said the combination of a stifling heat wave and dozens of wildfires ignited by two days filled with hundreds of dry lightning strikes has pushed California’s wildfire fighting capabilities to their max.
“We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions,” Newsom said. “California and its federal and local partners are working in lockstep to meet the challenge and remain vigilant in the face of continued dangerous weather conditions.”
Mutual aid resources from other Western States, generally a source of added manpower during fire season, may not be available because of large fires in their states.
Also fire crews from the California state prison system have been reduced by a COVID-19 outbreak.
“The number of fires actively burning statewide, as well as throughout other Western states, has resulted in a strain on California’s
mutual aid system, making it increasingly difficult for jurisdictions to obtain the necessary in-state and out-of-state firefighting resources to respond to these fires,” Newsom said in his emergency proclamation.
Many of the wildfires in the state remain burning out-of-control with little or no containment.
“Several of these fires, including the River Fire in Monterey County, the Jones Fire in Nevada County, and the Gamble Fire, Hennessy
Fire, and other nearby fires (collectively referred to as the “LNU Lightning Complex Fire”) in Napa County, have rapidly spread, destroying or threatening homes and critical infrastructure, and forcing the evacuations of thousands of residents,” Newsom said in his proclamation.
New evacuations were ordered in Napa County as the Hennessey Fire continued to burn with zero percent containment Tuesday afternoon, one of three major wildfires in the North Bay designated together by the Cal Fire Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit as the LNU Lightning Complex fires.
Cal Fire said new evacuation orders issued at 2 p.m. were:
– from Moskowite Corner to Wooden Valley Rd, Including the community of Circle Oaks.
– Atlas Peak from the Bubbing Well Pet Cemetary at 2462 Atlas Peak Rd to the dead end.
– From Loma Vista Rd / Soda Canyon Rd to the dead end.
Earlier Tuesday, evacuations were ordered for the intersection on Butts Canyon Road and Snell Valley Road to Spanish Valley, to include the Berryessa estates, northeast of Lake Berryessa. In addition, an evacuation warning was in effect for Butts Canyon Rd from the Lake County line to James Creek.
Mandatory evacuations were already in place in the heavily wooded area covering Highway 128 from Chiles Pope Valley Road to Lower Chiles Valley Road, Highway 128 from Chiles Valley Road to Monticello Road, Chiles Pope Valley Road from Highway 128 to Lower Chiles Valley Road and all of Hennessey Ridge Road.
Evacuation warnings are were issued for Highway 128 at Silverado Trail to Chiles Pope Valley Road, including Pritchard Hills area, and Highway 128 at Lower Chiles Valley Road to Turtle Rock.
Meanwhile, a wildfire evacuation order was issued for western Sonoma County Tuesday afternoon for a growing fire in a rural area in the hills between Healdsburg and Stewarts Points, according to county officials.
The Sonoma County Twitter account announced that the earlier evacuation warning had been upgraded to an evacuation order at around 2:15 p.m.
THIS IS NOW A WILDFIRE EVACUATION ORDER
An evacuation ORDER has been issued for the following area:
•North of Austin Creek Recreational Area
•East of The Cedars
•West of end of Mill Creek Rd.
•South of Stewarts Point-Skaggs Springs Rd
— County of Sonoma (@CountyofSonoma) August 18, 2020
County officials initially posted about the warning at around 12:40 p.m.
The Sonoma County Sheriff also tweeted about the fire. A Nixel alert was issued shortly before 1 p.m.
Evacuation warning issued for a fire in the Austin Creek area. https://t.co/CkJ2N4lO4Y
— Sonoma Sheriff (@sonomasheriff) August 18, 2020
The warning was issued for the area north of Austin Creek Recreational Area, east of Cedars, west of Mill Creek Road and South of Stewarts Point-Skaggs Springs Road.
Evacuation warnings were also issued Tuesday afternoon for the communities of Loma Mar and Dearborn Park in San Mateo County because of wildfire activity.
The communities are east of Pescadero along Pescadero Creek Road in the southern part of the county. Residents have been told to prepare to evacuate and recommended to pack their vehicles, secure their residences, and gather any needed medications.