HEALDSBURG (CBS SF) — The Sonoma County town of Healdsburg issued an evacuation warning Wednesday night, with city officials asked all residents to be prepared to leave their homes at a moments notice.
The warning was issued by Healdsburg officials at about 8:15 p.m.
“Residents may be ordered to evacuate soon. Do not wait to start gathering your things and be ready to leave,” the warning read. “If you feel you are in danger please evacuate now. Check with your neighbors to ensure they have been made aware of the warning.”
The message also asked the public stay vigilant and aware regarding current fire conditions, adhering to all road closures and any evacuation warnings. Residents should drive slowly and yield to emergency personnel in the area.
Earlier Wednesday afternoon, Cal Fire ordered thousands of Sonoma County residents to evacuate their homes as two wildfires raged nearby.
About 8,000 residents near Guerneville and the Russian River received orders to leave immediately as the Walbridge and Meyers Fire continued to grow Wednesday evening, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
The Walbridge Fire, which is in the Armstrong Redwoods, started early that morning and quickly spread to 1,500 acres. As of Wednesday afternoon, it had spread far enough that it could be seen from downtown Guerneville.
“I’ve never seen a fire this close to town,” one local said watching the flames move towards town. “It’s pretty crazy, but it happened very fast.”
“Got my dog food packed, my computer, two guitars,” another man said. “Ready to roll.”
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Up in the hills north of town, firefighters spent the overnight and morning hours trying to build lines along steep, winding roads.
“So there’s a lot of work to do,” says Paul Lowenathal of Cal Fire. “Our resources are definitely stretched thin, both on the air and on the ground. There are a lot of fires burning throughout Northern California.”
The other fire threatening Sonoma residents, the Meyers Fire, burns along the Sonoma Coast, not far from Jenner. The two fires actually shared limited air resources today. Both of these fires grew quickly with wind and low humidity overnight, and that same risk continues here at least through Thursday.
“The threat, how far it will push to the south, isn’t known right now,” Lowenathal explains. “Obviously that’s the last thing we want to see. That’s why we have areas like these under evacuation with the orders that are in place.”