ST. HELENA (CBS SF) — The raging Glass Incident wildfire, comprised of the Glass, Shady and Boysen Fire, has destroyed a number of homes along the eastern edge of Santa Rosa, and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people in Napa and Sonoma Counties. The fire has also consumed at least one winery, and threatened at least a dozen other well-known vintners.
The Glass Incident has tripled in size from overnight Monday to Monday afternoon, exploding to 36,236 acres with zero percent containment, Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls said at a 5 p.m press conference Monday.
The fire burned homes in Deer Park, jumping over Silverado Trail, and forcing thousands from their wine country homes including neighborhoods in St. Helena and Calistoga. Burning homes were also reported in Oakmont, a retirement community with 5,000 residents along state Highway 12, and in the Skyhawk and Mountain Hawk communities above it. The fire also burned into Trione-Annadel State Park.
Fire officials did not have an estimate Monday of how many homes were damaged or destroyed, but Nicholls said despite the destruction, firefighters were successful in saving many other structures that were threatened.
“There was a valiant firefight by our local firefighters and our Cal Fire firefighter here on the east side of Santa Rosa to save as many homes as they could, and the statement I heard is they save far more than they lost,” said Nicholls.
Sonoma County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum said Monday saw the first arrest of someone inside an evacuation zone, a 17-year-old who was seen hopping fences near Maria Carillo High School.
The fire roared to life around 4 a.m. Sunday and was still completely out of control 24 hours later despite the efforts of more than 1,000 firefighters and an intense air battle including retardant and water drops from firefighting DC-10s and a 747.
EVACUATION MAPS: Sonoma County | Napa County
Monday’s firefight was aided by a drop in the high winds that had helped push the blaze overnight into what Nicholls described as “explosive fire growth.” The blaze began as a 20-acre vegetation fire west of the Bell Canyon Reservoir and then exploded into 1,200 acres in 9 hours, more than 2,500 by Sunday evening, and 11,000 acres by early Monday. It was threatening over 8,500 structures.
On Monday, Cal Fire merged the Glass Fire with the Shady Fire, which is burning homes near Santa Rosa, and the smaller Boysen Fire. The total acreage for all three stood at 11,000 acres.
“We expect that to grow,” said Nicholls.
Overnight, Firefighters from Alameda County pushed their way into the #GlassFire East of Calistoga in Napa County to assist. The fire is now at 11,000 acres. Evacuation orders in place and additional evacuations in progress. #ALCOFIRE@CALFIRELNU pic.twitter.com/2BxgtyuYTD
— Alameda County Fire (@AlamedaCoFire) September 28, 2020
The region remained under a Red Flag fire warning until 9 p.m. Monday with warm early morning temperatures, low humidity and sweltering wind gusts up to 30 mph. The winds and tinder-dry vegetation was fueling the flames. The winds were an issue all night long.
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“Overnight winds in the North Bay ranged 35-55 mph in locations over 1000 feet, with some isolated pockets measuring 60 mph gusts,” the National Weather Service said. “A station in the Healdsburg Hills (2480 ft) near the Mayacmas Mountains in far northern Sonoma County reported a max wind gust of 67 mph. In Santa Rosa, winds gusted to 30 mph as the fires were quickly fanned towards the southwest.”
Napa County officials issued new mandatory evacuation orders early Monday for residents living in the area north of Bothe State Park to Diamond Mountain Road. Mandatory evacuation orders were also issued for Calistoga residents living in neighborhoods south of Lincoln Ave. and for residents living on the east side of Silverado Trail between Taplin Road and Sage Canyon Road and Sage Canyon Road east to Chiles Pope Valley Road.
Evacuation Order Information:
Highway 29 — a major escape artery out of the valley — was also closed to traffic between Lincoln Ave and Deer Park Road. Police told evacuees to take Highway 29 north to Lake County or take Highway 128.
According to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, a total of 68,000 people are currently under evacuation orders in unincorporated areas of the County and Santa Rosa. Napa County officials report that over 4,600 homes or approximately 11,600 residents are under evacuation orders or warnings.
Thousands of evacuees woke up Monday morning wondering if their homes and a lifetime of possessions and memories had gone up in flames. Among them was Deer Park resident Ben August.
“It may have already been devoured,” August sadly told KPIX 5 of his home in the once picturesque wine country neighborhood.
Elsewhere, homeowners desperate to save the more than 2,200 structures threatened by the growing flames tried to hose down their properties.
“If anything gets into the yard it will be gone, everything,” said Silverado Trail resident Tom Kaljian, who had watched his neighbor’s home consumed by flames.
“Hopefully don’t end up like the poor guy right across the street,” he said. “The whole house just went up in flames about five minutes ago.”
The flames and the smoke were all too familiar for longtime Sonoma County, especially people like Santa Rosa resident Tom Senander.
“I didn’t want to go through it again. I went through it in 2017. I’m done,” Senander told KPIX.
He lost his Fountain Grove home to the Tubbs Fire and bought his current house not far from the Skyhawk neighborhood of East Santa Rosa to put his life back together. But almost three years later, flames came for his house again in an eerily familiar scenario. So he ignored evacuation orders and stayed to save it.
“We stopped all the fire here before it hit the barn. If it had hit the barn, we would have lost everything. So we’ve been up all night,” said Senander.
It was a sleepless night for tens of thousands of people. inside Santa Rosa city limits, more than 13,000 homes and 607 commercial structures are threatened. Firefighters said conditions will get worse before it gets better.
“The winds, the humidity, the temperatures; that, with the conditions we have out here, have really led to a significant fire behavior,” said Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lownethal.
ALSO READ: Glass Fire Update: Napa And Sonoma County Road Closures Due To Wildfires
Red Flag conditions are forecast into Monday evening and fire activity could spur more evacuations if flames move into even more populous parts of the valley.
While Senander was able to save his home, many others will return to the Skyhawk area to find little more than ruins.
“There’s a lot of houses in the back there where we just came from, and they’re not there anymore. They’re gone,” he said.
A wall of flames was threatening the Adventist Health St. Helena hospital (which had been evacuated Sunday) and homes in Deer Park. By shortly before 10 p.m., the fire had jumped both the Silverado Trail and the Napa River.
— Joe Vazquez (@joenewsman) September 28, 2020
The flames ripped through the Chateau Boswell Winery located on the Silverado Trail Sunday evening.
Among the other wineries threatened by flames were Reverie Winery, Viader Winery, Schramsberg Winery and Davis Estates winery.
“We found out this morning at 4:45 that the fire started at the 200 block of Crystal Springs and, considering our address is 264 it was a pretty scary moment, for sure,” Reverie owner Grant Long told KPIX 5.
Long made the spooky drive to his winery Sunday afternoon, wondering if it would still be there. The neighbor’s house across the street is gone, but thanks to the vineyards and a lot of defensible space, the winery lives on.
“It was very surreal for a moment because it’s almost like it wasn’t here and you have to see it to believe it and being able to pull up and see it,” he said. “It’s a blessing.”
Glass Mountain Inn bed and breakfast — a local getaway favorite — also was consumed by flames.
The fire also jumped Highway 29 near the Culinary Institute of America, triggering mandatory evacuation orders for residents living in the area west of Highway 29 from Deer Park Road to Elmhurst and all of Spring Mountain Road.
That evacuation area was expanded at 11:44 p.m. to west of Highway 29 from Deer Park Road to Bothe Park Road west to the county line. Additionally, an evacuation warning was in place for the area west of Highway 29 from Booth State Park to Diamond Mountain Road west to the county line.
— Kenny Choi (@KennyKPIX) September 28, 2020
Shortly after 11 p.m. an earlier evacuation warning for Howell Mountain Road to the dead-end of Conn Valley and all of Rossi Road and Greenfield Road was upgraded to a mandatory evacuation order.
After waking up to fire alerts and messages from worried friends, Amy Bordeau of Calistoga said she grabbed the same bag she recently used when evacuating from another nearby wildfire.
“It’s a bit traumatizing,” she said. “I feel like I’m constantly fight or flight.”
Deputy Matt Macomber, one of several deputies currently evacuating parts of Napa County, posted a frightening video on social media of driving down a fire-surrounded lane in the hills.
Glass Fire: Never wait til the last second to evacuate. This video is from Deputy Matt Macomber, one of several deputies currently evacuating parts of Napa County. pic.twitter.com/YQXFirJ0aV
— Napa County Sheriff’s Office (@NapaSheriff) September 27, 2020
Napa County officials have set up an evacuation center at Crosswalk Community Church, 2590 First Street in Napa. The sheriff’s department asked the evacuated residents to clear out of the area.
“When evacuating, please leave the area,” deputies posted. “Do not stop/park in turnouts to view the fire. First responders often need access to the turnouts to park emergency vehicles.”
Contra Costa County fire emergency response crews were also dispatched Sunday morning to help with the evacuation of Adventist Health St. Helena Hospital. Hospital officials told KPIX they were “safely evacuating patients to nearby hospitals.”
The #GlassFire #GlassIncident has made its way to Adventist Health, the hospital that was evacuated this morning. Crews are trying to hold the fire on the west side of Sanitarium Rd by putting out hot spots as the fire burns up toward the road. The wind is in their favor. @KPIXtv pic.twitter.com/kjgHkz4Knf
— Katie Nielsen (@KatieKPIX) September 28, 2020
Sonoma Raceway has opened its 50-acre campground to evacuees seeking temporary refuge from the fires.
The raceway, which is equipped to handle up to 2,000 campers during its major event weekends, is available for tent and RV campers in need of temporary shelter.
The campground is located directly across from the raceway on Highway 121 and has not been affected by the fires. The raceway will follow COVID-19 safety protocols during evacuation shelter procedures, including mandatory face coverings and social distancing. Evacuees seeking RV or tent camping at Sonoma Raceway should enter the campground at Gate 6 on Highway 121, a quarter-mile north of Hwy 37.
Katie Nielsen contributed to this report.
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