Glass Fire rips through more of Wine Country Thursday night

Firefighters stood guard outside some of the country’s most renowned vineyards and the homes that surround them Thursday night as the Glass Fire continued to encroach on the communities of Calistoga and St. Helena — the heart of California’s famed Wine Country.

The blaze had engulfed 60,148 acres by Friday morning, burning most actively in the hills north of Calistoga and east of St. Helena. At least one home outside St. Helena was among the 220 residences to have burned down. A house on the 1300 block of Tucker Road was “fully involved,” late Thursday night according to Cal Fire, and had flames jetting out windows of both its two stories.

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The firefight was “very active” Thursday night as a layer of hot, dry air continued to help fuel the flames. However, the wind stayed calmer than anticipated, providing crews some assistance. By Friday morning, they had increased containment of the blaze to 6%.

To the north, firefighters have had more luck against the Zogg Fire, a similarly fast-moving inferno that has killed four people. Each blaze broke out Sunday, but Cal Fire reported 46% containment of the blaze in Shasta County following “another successful day that increased containment,” according to Cal Fire.

The Glass Fire has been more destructive than the Zogg Fire, which has damaged or destroyed 180 structures and torched 56,000 acres, but not more deadly; there has yet to be an injury or fatality reported in the Glass Fire.

Although offshore winds were less severe than forecasted, a red-flag warning remained in effect in the North Bay mountains, East Bay hills and Santa Cruz mountains through Friday. The heavy haze over the region was expected to see some “gradual clearing” Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

Even after midnight, temperatures around the region hovered above 80 degrees. Closer to the fire line, it was still about 90 degrees at 12:45 a.m. Friday, according to the NWS.

Just before nightfall Thursday, flames were threatening St. Helena and Calistoga from the west and east. A strike force from the San Jose Fire Department was preparing to defend the AXR winery a few hundred yards west of Highway 29 between the two towns. Flames were approaching the winery down a steep, forested hillside.

“The fire up on the hill’s going to come right down to us,” said Battalion Chief Brett Maas, who added that the wildfire strike team composed entirely of the San Jose department’s firefighters was a first in the department’s history outside the city.

Predicted high winds for the afternoon weren’t as severe as expected, and the team’s 22 firefighters, with five engines, were able to save three homes and two outbuildings above the winery, Maas said.

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