NAPA COUNTY (CBS SF) — Cal Fire on Tuesday night issued an immediate evacuation order in Napa County for all areas west of State Routes 29 and 128 (Foothill Boulevard) to the county line, between Diamond Mountain Road and Petrified Forest Road.
The order upgrades the previous evacuation warning, meaning there is an immediate threat to life and that all but fire and public safety personnel must leave immediately.
— CAL FIRE LNU (@CALFIRELNU) September 30, 2020
As of Tuesday evening, more than 22,000 homes were threatened, and at least 115 structures in Sonoma County and Napa County were destroyed.
Firefighters worked about a mile north of Calistoga Tuesday night as they tried to keep the fire from jumping Highway 29. A large orange glow can be seen from the city center.
“This is not good. Be careful everybody,” said Calistoga resident Marcos Hernandez.
Tuesday firefighters made some progress in the battle to contain the Glass Fire as it continued to wreak havoc.
In Deer Park, burned debris lined some of the streets. Hot spots can be found on hillsides throughout Napa Valley from St. Helena to Calistoga.
“Look at it. How do you stop that?” asks James Lindquist of Calistoga, pointing at the flames. “You don’t have enough guys to do that.”
Cal Fire says it has more than 2000 firefighters working the Glass Fire but they are spread out throughout Napa and Sonoma Counties.
Firefighters are on properties to provide structure protection but are letting some of the flames moving up steep terrain burn. Lindquist evacuated last night and is thankful to see the fire hasn’t entered city limits.
“It happens a couple of times every summer. It’s the price to pay to live here but it feels like a beat down,” says Lindquist.
While some evacuation orders in Santa Rosa were reduced to warnings Tuesday afternoon, Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner expressed concerns about forecast red-flag weather complicating and extending the battle to contain the Glass Fire.
“I’m being told that we will have a red flag warning this week. So Wednesday and Thursday, we’re looking at some 100-degree days with some wind and low humidity,” explained Gossner. “So its really important for all of us that are out there to really make sure we pick up these hot spots and clean up everything as much as we can before we see more heat and wind.”
Gossner warned residents that the fight to control the Glass Fire — a complex of wildfires in Napa County and near Santa Rosa in Sonoma County that has grown to 46,600 acres with two percent containment as of Tuesday evening — would be an extended one.
“We’re going to be in this for a couple of weeks. And it’s going to be painful for those that are dealing with it,” Gossner said.
The National Weather Service’s Bay Area office has issued a heat advisory for Wednesday and Thursday. However, it did not appear that the winds would be as intense as those that fueled the explosive growth of the Glass Fire Sunday night and Monday morning.
Hot temperatures are again forecast for midweek, especially across the interior. The hottest day of the week is forecast on Thursday with widespread triple digits inland. Thus, a Heat Advisory has been posted. #CAwx #CAHeat https://t.co/UmP9HqkZhn pic.twitter.com/3ixpBLxEkF
— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) September 29, 2020
Evacuation orders were downgraded to warnings for the following zones in Santa Rosa:
- Summerfield: All
- Spring Lake: All
- Northeast 1: All
- Northeast 3/Middle Rincon: All
- Calistoga – South / Skyhawk, for the following areas within this zone:
o West and North of Mountain Hawk Drive between Highway 12 and San Ramon Way
o West of San Ramon Way
- Melita, for the following areas within this zone:
o West of Calistoga Road
o South of Melita, North of Montgomery Drive and all homes accessed from Violette.
Evacuation warnings were lifted for the East 1, East 2 and East 3 zones.
Evacuation orders remained in place for:
- Calistoga – South / Skyhawk Zone, for the following areas within this zone:
o East of San Ramon
o East and South of Mountain Hawk Drive between Highway 12 and San Ramon Way
- Melita, for the following areas within this zone:
o East of Calistoga Road
o North of Melita Road between Queen Anne Drive and Montgomery Drive o All areas East of Channel drive and South of Montgomery Drive
- Calistoga – North
- Oakmont South
- Oakmont North
The following evacuation orders remain in effect in Napa County:
- South of Chiles Pope Valley Road
- East of Ink Grade Road
- West of Pope Valley Cross Road
- The entire Angwin area
The public is reminded to stay vigilant on current fire conditions as sudden changes could require evacuation orders to be reinstated..
Earlier, Cal Fire officials said crews were in a “run-and-gun” battle with the advancing flames of the Glass Fire in and around the community of Angwin as authorities ordered all residents to immediately flee their homes to safety.
Cal Fire officials said at least 52 homes have been destroyed in Napa County. Bruton said the fire had caused “significant damage to structures” in the Deer Park area.
By early Tuesday, many homes, businesses, resorts and wineries had been damaged or destroyed by the flames.
Cal Fire Operation Chief Mark Bruton said an intense air operation against the flames had already begun and would play a pivotal role in halting the fire in “treacherous terrain.”
“We have significant fire activity threatening the community of Angwin and also burning toward Pope Valley,” he said. “We have aircraft working there aggressively this morning to help mitigate that … It’s very steep, treacherous terrain near the Mt. St Helena, Palisades area. All yesterday was pretty much a run-and-gun battle with the fire within the community of Angwin and around that community with our limited resources.”
Napa County officials had upgraded the evacuation warnings Tuesday for Angwin residents to evacuation orders and also told residents living south of Chiles Pope Valley Road, east of Ink Grade Road and west of Pope Valley Cross Road to immediately leave their homes.
After the evacuation, neighborhoods in Angwin looked like ghost towns, the streets deserted. Some departed residents left sprinklers running on their roofs.
Mail boxes in front of homes were tagged to let first responders know which houses were empty, but not everyone left. Two residents named Dan and Dave decided to stay.
When asked how long they would stick around, Dave replied, “I don’t know. We’ll see. If I see flames, I’m outta here. But, until then, I’m just going to hang out.”
They were not alone.
Britton Bock was born in Angwin. He knows everyone in the town and said there were about 50 people who remained. He and a friend were making the rounds, helping folks who are choosing to stay behind.
“I stopped by to make sure they are safe, you know? Tell them what I’ve seen up on the mountain and to be ready is the biggest thing,” said Britton.
In the region below Angwin, there was an eerie silence as dawn broke over downtown Calistoga Tuesday, the bustle of a normal day was gone as thousands had been driven from their homes by flames burning in the hills above the wine country community.
State and local fire officials said the 1,474 firefighters on the scene are doing everything they can to battle the blaze in spite of a fire season that began in mid-summer in Northern California.
“It’s been a long season,” said Billy See, the incident commander for Cal Fire Incident Management Team Three.
“Most of (these firefighters) have been going since the middle of July, without rest, from fire to fire to fire here in the northern part of the state,” he said.
Monday began with just a few Calistoga neighborhoods under evacuations orders. By the end of the day, all 5,300 residents had been forced from their homes.
Overnight, Firefighters from Alameda County pushed their way into the #GlassFire East of Calistoga in Napa County to assist. The fire is now at 11,000 acres. Evacuation orders in place and additional evacuations in progress. #ALCOFIRE@CALFIRELNU pic.twitter.com/2BxgtyuYTD
— Alameda County Fire (@AlamedaCoFire) September 28, 2020
It was the second time a major wildfire has ripped through the region over the last two months. Firefighters were finally getting the massive LNU Lightning Complex fire — which has claimed five lives, burned hundreds of homes and charred 363,220 acres in Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties — under control with 98 percent of containment when the Glass Fire complex roared to life during Red Flag weather conditions early Sunday.
Exhausted fire crews once again found themselves in the middle of another intense battle with the flames.
“Our firefighters have not had much of a break,” Cal Fire’s Daniel Berlant said. “And these residents have not had much of a break.”
The weariness was also evident in the voices of the evacuees.
“You’re standing in your driveway and looking at your house and you wonder if you’re going to see it again,” said Jim Cunningham, an evacuee. “The scariest part of it is not knowing.”
Linda and Glen Shaver were worried the threat of frenzied evacuations was becoming part of the wine country lifestyle.
“We’re just exhausted,” they told KPIX 5. “We hear the term ‘the new norm.’”
Napa County officials report that over 4,600 homes or approximately 11,600 residents were under evacuation orders or warnings as of Tuesday morning.
The fire took a particularly hard toll on the Maher family, longtime residents of the valley. Dick Maher, 87, has lost the home where he raised his five children while the Glass Fire raged on Sunday night.
“Unfortunately, you can hear about it and read about, but when you see where you spent 45 years of your life, it’s uh, I’m crying,” Maher told KPIX 5.
But, the ruin didn’t stop at his home. In a cruel twist, two of Maher’s sons also lost their homes.
After three wildfire evacuations in 18 months, the spirit of the family is being tested.
“We’re all okay, we’re resilient. We’re full of love and blessed with so much, but it just keeps hitting us. It’s like come on, alright, already – please,” said Julie Maher.
If there is one piece of good news for the Mahers, it’s this: “I have my 87-year-old father’s jewelry and one piece of fancy art at another location from the fire last month. I never brought it back to the house,” said Shannon Maher. “It’s like, ‘Dad, the jewelry, your art, and all of your photos are safe because I was too lazy to bring them back.”
Evacuation Order Information:
- Napa County Evacuation Order Information
- City of Calistoga Evacuation Information
- Sonoma County Evacuation Information
- City of Santa Rosa Evacuation Information
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Napa and Sonoma counties Monday and asked President Donald Trump for a major disaster declaration.
Overnight, firefighters got a break from the weather. Winds calmed down and shifted directions, bringing in higher humidity levels from the Pacific Ocean. But in the 48 hours since it erupted from a still to be determined source, the blaze had altered the landscape in the picturesque region.
Castello di Amorosa, Meadowood Resort, Chateau Boswell and the Glass Mountain Inn Bed and Breakfast have all been damaged or completely destroyed. Dozens of homes have been burned or damaged.
“It’s crazy and unbelievable,” said Jim Sullivan, spokesman for Castello di Amorosa. “What we are seeing in loss and devastation.”
While the flames had slowed their advance, large pieces of ash rained down on downtown Calistoga early Tuesday and the bright orange glow was still very visible in the hills above the city. A reminder the threat still remained great and firefighters were still being strained and challenged.
Don Ford contributed to this story.