ST. HELENA (CBS SF) — Cal Fire officials announced 100 percent containment of the Glass Fire Tuesday — a blaze that roared through 67,484 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties, destroying 642 homes and laying to waste 365 commercial buildings, including nearly two dozen wineries.
The announcement came as a large swath of the burn area was about to fall under either a new Red Flag Fire Warnings or a Fire Weather Watch or both.
“The continuation of gusty, dry offshore winds and low humidity, in combination with very dry fuels, will result in an increased risk of new wildfire starts and rapid wildfire spread,” the National Weather Service warned. “Gusty northerly winds will initially affect the North Bay Mountains and East Bay Hills and Valleys late Wednesday evening and expand overnight into the Santa Cruz Mountains and portions of Coastal San Mateo County through Thursday morning.”
Cal Fire officials said even though the vast majority of the more than 2,000 firefighters who traveled to wine county from around the state, the county and the globe have now gone home, the local units will remain vigilant and ready to respond to any new fires.
Those units will also continuing to mop-up the burn area until the blaze is completely extinguished.
“You may see hot spots and suppression repair going on for the next few weeks,” Cal Fire officials said in a release. “If traveling in the area, please drive with caution and expect delays in areas that are undergoing suppression repair and utility work.”
They also will be ready to respond if new fires should erupt.
“As we are under a Red Flag Warning there will be crews performing active patrols in the area to mitigate hot spots and respond to service needs as they come up,” officials said.
On Monday night, Sonoma County officials announced they were lifting the final remaining evacuation orders. At the height of the firestorm, thousands of residents were forced from their homes including those living in Angwin, Calistoga, St. Helena and eastern neighborhoods in Santa Rosa.
For many of the 642 families that lost their homes in the fire, the days ahead will be one of recovery.
“This whole length there was the living room,” said resident Mary Ann Parrish as she surveyed the remains of her home in the Deer Park Community above St. Helena. Her family were pioneers in the area and built the first homes there.
“Unreal,” she said, shaking her head. “I mean, it’s what we work for all of our life, you know? Everything, it’s gone.”
She and many others now face the heartbreaking task of clearing away all that’s left of the places they called home.
And that’s not an easy process, said Diane Dillon, Chair of Napa County’s Board of Supervisors. County officials are dealing with not only the Glass Fire, but the lightning sparked Hennessey Fire from two months ago.
“We’ve never had this situation exactly, with fires of this significance, back to back,” Dillon said.
Parrish is prohibited from taking anything from the site, even though as she looked closely at the ashy gray piles she could see objects that held special meaning.
She spotted a flying pig given to her by her sister and the bicycle her now 40-year-old daughter rode in the 3rd grade. She also saw a blackened round disc that used to be a silver pastry pan.
“That was my mom and dad’s 25th wedding anniversary gift. I had it for cakes,” she said. What looked like a pile of debris was actually far more to Parrish.
“Oh yes, it’s our treasures that are mixed in with the ashes,” she said.