NAPA COUNTY (CBS SF) – Crews gained containment overnight of the Pope Fire, burning in grassy woodlands in the Napa County hills east of Angwin and St Helena.
Cal Fire said crews would focus on extinguishing smoldering hot spots on Saturday.
“Firefighters made good progress on containment overnight and will remain on scene throughout the day,” officials said in a Saturday morning news release. “Fire crews will continue containment and extinguish any hot spots.”
The blaze erupted Friday afternoon and the towering smoke clouds in the Napa County hills raised anxieties in the region that was devastated by the LNU Complex Fire and the Glass Fire since mid-August.
The fire started near Lower Chiles Valley Road and Chiles Pope Valley Road around 4 p.m. According to Cal Fire, the fire grew to 67 acres by nightfall.
Overnight, firefighters halted any growth of the burn zone and gained 70 percent containment. No structures were threatened by the blaze. A total of 24 engines, seven water tenders and four hand crews responded to fight the fire.
But there will be little rest for fire crews throughout the San Francisco Bay Area over the next 72 hours.
A burst of gusty winds forecast to begin Sunday will be carrying the same wildfire threat as the weather conditions that helped spark the deadly 2017 Wine County October firestorm that included the devastating Tubbs Fire.
A Red Flag Fire Warning was set to go into effect for most of the San Francisco Bay Area at 8 p.m. Sunday and extend all the way to 11 a.m. Monday. Pacific Gas & Electric was already predicting that more than 1 million customers — 466,000 homes and businesses — across Northern California will have their power turned off as a precaution.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the vast majority of Bay Area communities including those in Wine Country are in an area of severe or extreme drought conditions.
Meanwhile, the weather service said San Francisco has received just 0.06 of rain since May 18th — a span of 158 days. And there are no showers forecast for the rest of the month.
The drought conditions, tinder-dry hills, low humidity and gusty winds are a formula for a wildfire outbreak.
“In simple terms this event looks to be on par with the 2017 wine country fires and last years Kincade Fire (that occurred Oct 26-27th 2019),” the weather service warned. “The 2017 wine country and 2019 Kincade peaked between 9 p.m. and roughly 1-3 a.m. at night. This event may arrive slightly earlier but should any fires start it will be a long night of gusty winds.”