HEALDSBURG (CBS SF) — Some of the evacuation orders and warnings that had been in place in Sonoma County due to the LNU Lightning Complex fires were lifted early Tuesday afternoon as crews increased containment.

In Napa County, evacuation orders were downgraded to evacuation warnings for:

  • Silverado Trail south from Deer Park Road to Highway 128 (Sage Canyon Road) to include the areas of Fawn Park, Madrone Knolls, Meadowood, Howell Mountain Road including roads off of Howell Mountain Road up to and including Conn Valley Road, Taplin Road, Rutherford Hill Road, and Long Ranch Road.
  • Highway 128 (Sage Canyon Road) up to Chiles Pope Valley Road.

Highway 128 (Sage Canyon) from Chiles Pope Valley Road east to Highway 121 remained under an evacuation order, as was Deer Park, Angwin and all roads in between. Howell Mountain Road from Conn Valley Road to Deer Park Road also remained under an evacuation order.

Earlier in Sonoma County, a number of evacuation orders and warnings were lifted for the Sonoma Coast south of the Russian River and east of Dry Creek. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office also said that the evacuation warning for the town of Windsor had been lifted for the area north of Windsor River Road to the northern town limit and west of Hwy 101 to the western town limit.

All evacuation warnings for the city of Healdsburg were also lifted Tuesday. All other areas that were under evacuation orders remain under those orders.

LNU LIGHTNING COMPLEX:

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s message noted that River Road and Hwy 116 would remain closed from the Hacienda Bridge to Old Cazadero Road. Hwy 116 is also staying closed at Drake Road coming into Guerneville. residents returning home to the Monte Rio, Camp Meeker, Jenner and the Cazadero areas are encouraged to use alternate routes.

The Sonoma County Sheriff also warned that PG&E services could be temporarily disrupted due to the firefight and that PG&E crews were working to restore service.

For a second day, the skies above wine country will be filled with air tankers Tuesday as firefighters battle to expand containment of the sprawling LNU Lightning Complex, the third-largest wildfire outbreak in California history, and the deadliest of all the blazes still raging across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Cal Fire Chief Sean Kavanaugh said Tuesday that additional relief crews arriving from elsewhere had grown the number of firefighters battling the complex fire to over 2,190 with 250 National Guard troops expected to arrive later this week.

“We are looking good with all the resources we have coming in,” he told reporters at the Tuesday morning briefing. “We have had a substantial increase in resources over the last five days.”

When the skies cleared enough on Monday, Kavanaugh said, the air effort against the fire complex intensified. Five large air tankers dumped 87,000 gallons of retardant across the complex.

With the air support, containment of the entire complex has grown to 27 percent with the Meyers Fire near Jenner reaching 98 percent with most evacuees in that area being allowed to return to their homes and Highway 101 reopened.

The fire complex stood at 352,913 acres — trailing only the 2018 Mendocino Complex (459,123 acres) in size in state wildfire history. More than 900 homes and buildings have been destroyed with more than 30,000 still threatened. While some mandatory evacuations have been downgraded to warnings, thousands remain forced from their homes.

The fires have also claimed five lives — three in Napa County and two in nearby Solano County.

“We are optimistic about everything that is happening on the complex,” Kavanaugh said. “With that, we still have some trouble areas we are still dealing with and we still have evacuation orders in place.”

The Hennessey Fire, which includes seven smaller blazes that merged with it, was at 296,050 acres on Tuesday morning and was 29 percent contained.

Meanwhile, the Walbridge Fire was proving to be the most challenging as it stood at 54,503 acres and was 17 percent contained.

“It’s really difficult terrain,” Cal Fire Operations Chief Chris Waters said Tuesday of the Walbridge firefight. “Rugged, covered with Redwoods, heavy fuel mixed in with a significant number of structures.”

Cal Fire Chief Shana Jones acknowledged that the sprawling nature of the complex can make it confusing for local residents.

“This incident is very dynamic,” she told reporters on Tuesday. “Some parts are in mop-up and patrol…Other areas have active fire. That means you will still see smoke, there still will be flames, you will see folks still being evacuated and out of the area. There is a lot of information flowing from north to south, east to west on this incident. Each part is dynamic.”

At a Monday news conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the next week of fighting the fires across state including the LNU Complex would be critical.

“We are deploying every resource at our disposal, every resource within the state and … some of the resources we’ve pulled from out of state into California to battle these historic wildfires,” the governor said.

 

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