HEALDSBURG (KPIX) — The massive 780-square-mile fire burning in the North Bay – also known as the LNU Lightning Complex Fires – has killed four people and is now the 10th largest fire in California history.
Late Friday afternoon, Sonoma County officials said that the spread of the Walbridge Fire burning west of Healdsburg, appears to have slowed thanks, in part, to additional firefighting resources. At 22,000 acres, it is one of several fires that comprise the LNU Lightning Comples.
“It feels eerie, it feels scary, but it’s something that we’re used to,” said Brad Barmore, owner of Kinsmoke BBQ. “This amount of ash falling in the air? That’s the part that’s unsettling.”
If Healdsburg needed a reminder of what was happening just west of town, it came falling from the sky all afternoon.
“You can see the tables. It looks like somebody emptied out a fireplace on top of the tables,” Barmore said. “It’s crazy.”
The source of that ash was nearest fire activity, an area burning near Dry Creek Valley.
“There’s a lot of homes, there’s a lot of property, vineyards and wineries,” explained Tim Nordvedt, Vice President of Bella Vineyards. “Jobs for people,” he added.
Grapes are due next week at Bella so a skeleton staff was still here, trying to protect the property, and keep the gears of the winery running.
“This is in an ag business and Mother Nature doesn’t stop for fire, or for the pandemic for that matter,” Nordvedt says. “We have to keep growing grapes.”
“I’ve been on the fire line on Skaggs Springs for the last four days putting fire line in,” said Lawrence Boyd , just down the road. “I came back here this afternoon.”
Boyd left one side of the fire only to find the other side looming over his family home. He and his mother used a garden hose to save this house back in 1972. Only that time, the power stayed on.
“And now that the electricity is off, I just bought that generator,” Boyd said. “By golly I’m not just going to stand by and watch this place burn I’m going to do my damnedest to keep it here.”