SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — While home after home burned to the ground as flames tore through the Skyhawk neighborhood in Santa Rosa, some neighbors picked up garden hoses and took a stand against the Glass Fire.
Early Monday evening, Cal Fire officials confirmed that the fire had grown to over 36,000 acres, more than tripling in size since the morning.
So far, Cal Fire has not released any estimates on the number of structures destroyed by the glass fire since it erupted in Wine Country early Sunday morning.
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“As we sit today, I don’t know how many structures were lost throughout the firefight last night but there were significant losses,” said Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner.
Santa Rosa’s Skyhawk neighborhood is now almost unrecognizable.
On Monday, firefighters made quite a stand and stopped the advance of the flames from overtaking the rest of the neighborhood.
But on Sunday night, the homes in Skyhawk did not stand a chance.
The winds were so strong, the smoke and flames coming off the structures were
Firefighters stopped the flames as they came over the top of Mountain Hawk Drive, but not before a few more homes were lost.
By daybreak, KPIX 5 cameras were able to get a much better sense of the damage.
The flames had roared in from east to west, coming off the mountains, dropping embers into the open field along Sunhawk Drive and Los Alamos Road.
Embers the size of golf balls were dropping out of the sky and into the field. Most of the burned homes were directly next to the field.
Just as crews were dousing hotspots on Mountain Hawk Drive, neighbor Lisa
Hertel came racing in to tell them about another flare up around the corner.
“I care about this neighborhood. I care about this community,” said Hertel.
Her son Logan was already there using a garden hose to spray a weak stream of water on one neighbors home.
“Trying to help out where I can. Just want to put out this fire, you know? Save this house from burning,” said Logan.
If Logan looks familiar, you may have seen him in a KPIX report on the Tubbs fire back in 2017. Three years ago, he found some goldfish who had survived the fire and reunited them with their owners.
When asked if he felt like a hero, Logan said, “In a way, I guess. Just trying to help out when I can.”
KPIX also spoke with Paula Flores, whose home is directly across the street from some of the destruction.
The heat was so intense, it melted the front of her garage.
She said Sunday night brought back some traumatic memories from 2017.
“Here we are going through these fires again, said Flores. “You know, some of us have PTSD from back in 2017. It’s hard. You know, you just hope that every time you go through it’s like, okay, we survived, it’s gone and hopefully won’t come through again. Here we are. Three years later.”
Monday’s firefight was aided by reduced winds that overnight had helped push the blaze into what Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls described as “explosive fire growth.”
The fire was also strengthened as it drove toward Santa Rosa because it was burning in an area that had not previously burned, which meant there was an abundance of vegetation and brush to fuel the flames.
By mid-morning, about 68,000 people were subject to mandatory evacuation orders, while another 14,624 had been warned that they may have to evacuate soon.
Neighborhoods that are in warning zones reach near to the center of Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 that lost about 3,043 homes in the Tubbs Fire, which swept into the city overnight on Oct 9, 2017.
On Monday, with winds at lower speeds, both Nicholls and Gossner said that while Santa Rosa neighborhoods and the 5,000-acre Trione-Annadel State Park were threatened, the weather was creating an opening to make progress on the firefight.
“Today, the wind will continue to push the fire into Annadel and the concern is over the top into Bennet Valley and on, possibly, toward Rohnert Park. However, the winds are not what we were seeing last night so it’s giving the fire a chance to stand up and not be pushed toward those communities,” Nicholls said.
Gossner added, “There’s many challenges as we move through the day, but we have an opportunity when this fire stands up to kind of put it down and make sure we’re doing what we can with the time that we have.”