Northern California Wildfires (Oct 2017)

Over 10,000 firefighters are battling 15 fires, principally in the wine-growing valleys north of San Francisco, as of Monday October 16. Fires in Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Yuba, Butte, Fresno, Calveras, Orange and Nevada counties have burned about 218,000 acres (88,000 hectares), destroying about 5,700 structures and forcing the evacuation of over 100,000 people, according to CAL FIRE and local officials. As of Sunday evening local time on October 15, there are 40 recorded fatalities. Hundreds of people are missing. Dry conditions, low humidity and strong winds contributed to the fires’ initial spread. Fires were spread quickly on the night of Sunday October 8 by 50 – 70 mph (80 – 110 km/hr) Diablo wind gusts, bringing dry air from the continental interior. Sporadic windy conditions throughout the week continued to spread the fires, but more settled weather since Sunday October 15 means that fire containment is finally advancing. CENTRAL LNU COMPLEX (Tubbs, Pocket, Nuns, Oakmont Fires): The Tubbs Fire, located to the north of Santa Rosa (pop. ~170,000) covers 45,000 acres in Napa and Sonoma Counties. CAL FIRE reports 3,947 structures destroyed as of 02:00 UTC, Monday October 16. An additional 159 structures are reported damaged. Aerial photographs show whole neighborhoods destroyed. The Fountaingrove area is reported to be particularly badly affected, with severe damage in the Coffey Park and Sleepy Hollow neighborhoods and the Journey’s End mobile home park, where at least 100 homes were destroyed. Amongst the damaged and destroyed structures are several hotels (including the Fountaingrove Inn and the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country), several schools and colleges (including the Redwood Adventist Academy, the Hidden Valley Satellite campus, part of the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts and Cardinal Newman High School), the Fountaingrove Round Barn event center, the Paradise Ridge Winery, a Kmart, a fire station, the Fountaingrove Gold and Athletic Club, the Oakmont of Varenna retirement home, the URJ Camp Newman, several restaurants, several shops, and two farms in the area (Let’s Go Farm and Leisen’s Bridgeway Farms). Most of northern Santa Rosa and several neighborhoods in eastern Santa Rosa have been evacuated, including two hospitals. Latest reports suggest that the fire is no longer actively burning near Santa Rosa, and so the number of properties destroyed by the Tubbs fire in the city is unlikely to rise dramatically. The city of Calistola (pop. ~5,000) was fully evacuated, but it no longer considered under threat. The Nuns Fire is located to the southeast of Santa Rosa in Sonoma and Napa counties. It covers 47,000 acres, is 25% contained and has affected Oakmont (pop. ~4,500), Kenwood (pop. ~1,000), Glen Ellen (pop. ~800) and settlements at the eastern end of Santa Rosa. The Norbomm, Adobe, Pressley and Partrick fires, formerly separate, are now included in the Nuns Fire. A neighborhood of about 70 houses has been destroyed on Bennett Ridge Road in east Santa Rosa. Whole blocks are reported destroyed in north and west Glen Ellen, according to local media reports, but numbers are unknown. Several homes are reported destroyed in western Kenwood. Two houses are reported destroyed in southeast Oakmont, eastern Santa Rosa, but most of the town has escaped damage. Oak Hill Farm, Flatbed Farm and Bee-Well Farms are destroyed or suffered severe damage, according to local media. Eighteen people have been killed. As of 04:45 UTC on Monday October 16 the fire was 60% contained, according to CAL FIRE. Note that several fires in the Central LNU Complex formerly belonged to the Southern LNU Complex. SOUTHERN LNU COMPLEX (Atlas Fire): The Southern LNU Complex spreads across a wide area from the east end of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, to regions east of Napa (pop. ~80,000), Napa County, crossing into Solano County. It covers over 51,000 acres. The fire complex has destroyed 303 structures as of 04:52 UTC, Monday October 16, according to CAL FIRE. Fire damage is reported in the affluent neighborhoods close to the Silverado Resort. Six people have been killed. MENDOCINO LAKE COMPLEX (Redwood Valley, Potter and Sulphur fires): The Mendocino Lake Complex, Mendocino and Lake Counties, covers over 38,000 acres. About 433 single family residences and 242 minor structures have been destroyed as of 02:00 UTC on Monday October 16, according to CAL FIRE. In addition, 21 houses and 24 minor structures are reported damaged. The Redwood Fire has destroyed an unknown number of homes in Redwood Valley (pop. ~1,700). The 36,000-acre fire is 45% contained. The Sulphur Fire in Lake County has destroyed buildings in Clearlake (pop. ~15,000), with the city’s sheriff reporting 158 buildings burned. The 2,000-acre fire is 80% contained. Eight people have been killed and about 8,000 evacuated. WIND COMPLEX (Cascade, LaPorte, Lobo, McCourtney, Lobo and Garden fires):. The Wind Complex fires in Butte, Yuba and Nevada counties cover about 17,000 acres and are at 93% containment as of 00:45 UTC, Monday October 16. All evacuations have been lifted. The fires have destroyed 203 residences, 194 outbuildings and one commercial building, according to CAL FIRE. Additionally, 6 residences and 10 outbuildings have been damaged. Media reports that about 15 structures, including one business, have been destroyed in Bangor (pop. ~600), Butte County, by the La Porte Fire. Homes are reported destroyed in Loma Rica (pop. ~600) by the Cascade Fire. Multiple homes are reported destroyed in Rough and Ready (pop. ~1,000). The Garden Fire destroyed two structures and a barn and was contained at 10 acres. Four people have been killed. REMAINING BLAZES: In southern California the 9,200 acre Canyon 2 fire in Orange County has destroyed 25 structures and damaged 55 as of 02:00 UTC, Monday October 16. Much of this damage occurred in eastern Anaheim (pop. ~350,000). The fire forced about 1,000 evacuations, which have now been lifted. The fire is 90% contained. The Silver Fire, Fresno County, is reported to have destroyed three houses. Four structures are reported destroyed in the Point Fire in Calaveras County, which covers 130 acres. At least three structures have been damaged in the Cherokee fire in Butte County, which covers 8,400 acres. The fire is 95% contained. OTHER IMPACTS: At least 13 wineries are reported to be destroyed, and more have been damaged. Napa and Sonoma counties have the largest number of wineries in California. According to Napa Valley Vintners, about 90% of this year’s grapes had been harvested when the fires broke out. About 310,000 homes and businesses lost power, 42,000 lost gas supply, and landline and cellular telecommunications are down at many locations. Power has now been restored to 92% of those affected, according to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The Governor of California has declared emergencies for Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada and Orange counties. The U.S. federal government has declared a major disaster, providing additional fire management resources.

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October 2017


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