Wine Country Fires Intensify — Update: 17 Dead; 100 Missing

Napa Wine Country fires (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

California has 64 active fires burning across the state, with the worst devastation caused by the seven major Wine Country fires, fueled by 68-mile-per-hour Diablo winds that have burned 94,000 acres, killed 17 people, and destroyed at least 2,000 homes and businesses.

Overnight Diablo winds with very low “dew points” funneled down mountain passes and canyons to cause 15 new fires north of the San Francisco Bay.

Tens of thousands of Wine Country residents were forced to flee their homes overnight. The fires now cover 50 square miles. Despite the heroic efforts of firefighters and police to move people to safety, Sonoma County authorities report that another 100 people are now currently listed as “missing.”

Governor Jerry Brown has declared a State of Emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Yuba Counties. The move mobilizes the California National Guard and allows all state agencies to employ state personnel and make emergency expenditures in support of county and local needs.

State statutes, rules, regulations and requirements regarding the removal, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste and debris resulting from the fires are also suspended.

The Trump administration is monitoring the situation and has directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to approve federal fire assistance grants. It has also committed to offering other public assistance to help the county and city governments when they are ready to rebuild.

CalFire’s latest update is tracking 64 major fires stretching from the 6,000-acre Canyon 2 Fire in Orange County, which began yesterday, to the 38,600-acre Miller Complex in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, which has been burning since August 14.

California’s most dangerous firestorm conditions — despite almost 2,000 firefighters deployed — are the seven mostly uncontained blazes along the Central Coast including:

  1. Tubbs Fire: Napa County off Highway 128 and Bennett Ln, Calistoga — 35,000 acres;
  2. Nuns Fire: Sonoma County off Highway 12, north of Glen Ellen — 5,000 acres;
  3. Sulfur Fire: Lake County off Hwy 20 and Sulphur Bank Road — 2,500 acres, 5 percent contained;
  4. Patrick Fire: Napa County off Patrick Road and west of Napa — 3,000 acres;
  5. #37 Fire: Sonoma County fire at Highway 37 and Lakeville Hwy — 2,000 acres; 15 percent contained;
  6. Altus Fire: Napa County off Atlas Peak Road and south of Lake Berryessa — 25,000 acres, advisory evacuations issued for Soscol Creek to North Kelly; and
  7. Redwood Complex Fire (merged Redwood Fire and Potter Fire): Mendocino County north of Highway 20 and west of the Mendocino National Forest — 19,000 acres. Mandatory evacuations are in place for areas of Potter Valley, the Community of Redwood Valley, and Golden Rule. Shelter centers have been opened at Ukiah High School and Willits City Hall.

All schools are closed in the area, and the Red Cross and local agencies have set up shelters at area high schools not yet effected by the fires. The Ukiah Fair Grounds, Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, and the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma have now been designated as large animal evacuation centers.

This article has been updated to reflect a higher death toll.


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