WINE COUNTRY INFERNO – DAY 2 & 3
Updates to the main post.
- National Guard finally activated by Gov Brown. 48 hours late. Simply inexcusable.
- Town of Sonoma having evacs occurring within 5 blocks of downtown.
- West Fairfield now under Evac Advisory warning
- 380 now missing
- Wind is blowing to south and increasing in strength, as feared.
- Beginning house to house searches for victims.
And from Scott:
Good morning from fire ravaged Napa, it’s 5:34 and I’m at work. After thirty six hours power has been restored at my house but more of the area has been compromised. The Atlas Peak fire looks like two separate fires and the Partrick Rd fire has become an issue. My mother and sister still haven’t been able to return home after over two days. Four people that I know have lost their homes, many more are still evacuated. Two very close friends have just been evacuated from very dangerous locations. Temps have dropped and humidity has gone from below 20% to near 40% which is helping but the wind is very fickle which is not helping. Communications are getting better and the stories have become numerous. Like the friend who was able to get back to his house and then didn’t leave, he was able to defend his while his neighbor’s house burnt to the ground because fire fighters aren’t even able to try. He’s also able to keep an eye on my mother’s house. I haven’t seen any planes but lots of helicopters, Rangers, Hueys, Sky Cranes, and Chinooks. Sadly, people like me can’t help in any meaningful way because authorities are denying access to areas that aren’t that serious. Scott
Fires of Hell
It’s now late Wednesday afternoon, the third full day of the Wine Country Inferno. This is the latest update that you cannot count on the media to provide.
Santa Rosa awoke to a totally different set of circumstances Tuesday morning. The winds had subsided, temperatures had fallen by 10 degrees, and the humidity had increased. This served to mitigate the “extreme” fire behavior encountered Sunday night and Monday.
Today, the winds had returned again, causing more fire movement and evacuations.
In Fountaingrove and Coffey Park, some people began to return to their homes to try and salvage what they could. But for those familiar with CA wildfires of this intensity, there is nothing left but rubble. Stirring the rubble will turn over little, if anything, that is salvageable.
(Coffey Park, before and after.)
A few people in the Fountaingrove area went home to find that their homes had survived, but these are few and far between. (My friend was not one of those lucky ones.) Coffey Park, the same occurred.
Today’s count, just an estimate, revealed over 3000 homes and businesses have now been lost. This number will steadily increase as authorities manage to get into other areas that are currently not accessible.
There have been 11 lives lost in Sonoma County, with 570 people “missing” in the Santa Rosa area. Many of the missing may end up being found in the ashes of their homes.
Several wineries have been declared total losses in both Napa and Sonoma County. Most of the “crush” had been completed, with only the Cabernet Sauvigon grapes left to be harvested. Though the 2017 vintage of all wines will be affected, it will not be the losses that were feared. However, depending upon how many acres of vines have burned, the future looks rough for many years.
Though the fires were subdued by the change in weather, this does not mean that they were stopped. In Santa Rosa, the Tubbs fire continued to advance in the Bennett Valley region, forcing new evacuations along the Summerfield Road area.
The Nun’s fire was more active, burning in rural areas and was advancing on the Oakmont section of Santa Rosa, a 55 and older community consisting of over 5000 people. That area has been evacuated. Overnight, the fire entered the community and some homes caught fire.
Other local communities, the wine towns of Glen Ellen and Kenwood, remain under threat with flames approaching. Glen Ellen is reportedly surrounded by flames. These towns have already been hit hard, but the main part of downtown Glen Ellen remains intact for the moment.
The good news is that Fire Strike Teams are beginning to arrive. Some fire control efforts began today, but Thursday will likely see the first real fire suppression efforts, beginning to get fire lines in place where homes are threatened.
Then begins the real task for suppression, tackling the rural wooded areas to contain and then control the fires.
And then…….the search of burnt out homes for the missing.
To understand just how pervasive the fires are, I live 30 miles from the nearest fire. This morning smoke hovered over the entire area. Visibility was less than one mile. The smell of smoke was like wood burning fireplaces on a cold winter’s night.
Tonight, the increased wind has resulted in new “Red Flag Warnings”. This means that conditions are ripe for new fires.