SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Firefighters expanded containment of the massive Glass Fire that has burned 67,484 acres in wine country to 90 percent early Sunday, but the showers needed to finish off Northern California’s historic outbreak of wildfires were being bounced into the Northwest by a building offshore high pressure system which will bring hot, dry conditions for the coming week.
Cal Fire says that across the region, several large fires have reached a 90-plus percent of containment including the deadly Zogg Fire, the Butte/Tehama/Glenn Lightning Complex, the Glass Fire and the North Complex burning near Oroville.
But to completely put the blazes to rest, firefighters will need help from Mother Nature. And that will not come this week.
“Given the available fuels and the lack of wetting rains from the departing upper-level trough, fire weather concerns will be the main focus through the rest of the week,” the National Weather Service warned Sunday.
A warming trend will get underway today and continue through the workweek ahead. 90s will be common across inland areas by midweek, while coastal areas warm into the 80s thanks to light offshore winds. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/5AU641yFvz
— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) October 11, 2020
Weather Service forecasters said they were monitoring the condition and may need to issue a Fire Weather Watch “for some of our high-terrain locations in the North and East Bay from Wednesday Night into Thursday.”
Along the fire lines, weary crews were being allowed to return to their home cities, states and nations. The once small army of firefighters that numbered more than 2,700 at the height of the fire stood at 1,125 by Sunday morning with more expected to be released over the next 24 hours.
“The demobilization of resources continues, resources are anticipated to be released based on the current fire and weather situation,” Cal Fire said in a Sunday morning release. “These measures ensure that the number and type of resources assigned to the incident match the current operational needs.”
As for the fire, Cal Fire said most of the active flames have been replaced by areas of smoldering debris.
“There has been smoldering heavy fuels and minimal activity over the entire Glass Fire area,” officials said in their Sunday morning release.
Meanwhile across the fire-stricken areas of Napa and Sonoma counties, more than 600 families were trying to pick up the pieces after their homes were destroyed in the blaze.
The region’s world-renowned wine industry was also still reeling from the blaze which ripped through wineries and vineyards. While Glass Fire flames never got closer than seven miles to Chimney Rock Winery it’s still been a bear of a summer.
“We came out of shelter in place in June and then we had the LNU fires and bad air quality and then, you know, reopened and then the Glass Fire,” said Michelle Egan, director of hospitality for the winery.
Resuming wine tastings this week produced a hearty blend of gratitude with a hint of wariness. The air smells sweet again and most roads are open so customers are slowly returning, even if pandemic rules are keeping their numbers low.
Lou Pezzella, from Benicia, missed his tasting reservation in August when the LNU lightning fires broke out.
“It pushed us out a whole month after and we were going to come up last week but they were still closed so to finally get the call: ‘yes, they’re open this weekend,’ I was like, great! Fantastic!” Pezzella said.
To reward customers, Chimney Rock is now offering guided cart tours of the property, pointing out not only its beauty but also the fruit that will not be harvested due to smoke damage.
It’s been that kind of year and the same is true at sister winery Rutherford Hills, where an evacuation tag still dangles from the front gate.
The fire came within a mile of the property and it just reopened to the public on Thursday.
Gerson Navarrete hustled up from Fairfield with his wife and friends to do some wine tasting and support the business.
“If nobody comes, the employees will be sent home,” Navarrete said. “So, even if you have two or three people, at least you are promoting the economy for them to provide income for their families as well.”
Despite the challenges of staying open — or perhaps because of them — wineries have been doing booming business in online sales.
Loyal customers are supporting their favorite wineries while at the same time enjoying a little pandemic stress relief of their own but both the wineries and the wine tasters agree: nothing beats being there in person.
“It’s like ‘back to school’ again, right?” said Chimney Rock’s Egan. “We’re prepared. We’re here with open arms and the wines are showing better than ever.”