Number of homes destroyed in Glass Fire increases as winds forecast to pick up

With a hot and dry air mass overhead, the Glass Fire in the North Bay swelled 5,000 acres overnight and more spread is expected Thursday with winds kicking up.

The burn area that’s northeast of Santa Rosa grew from 51,266 acres Wednesday night to 56,781 acres Thursday morning. Containment increased from 2% to 5%, according to Cal Fire’s Thursday morning incident report.

Flames have destroyed more than 200 structures, including 143 single-family homes. Of those homes, 36 are in Sonoma County and 107 in Napa County. (See Cal Fire’s full report for further information on structure damage.) A total of 27,000 structures remain threatened.

New evacuation warnings were announced last night for people living north of Calistoga. (You can find details on the order here.)

Firefighters are preparing for winds to pick up Thursday into Friday, focusing on building containment lines and protecting structures before fire activity resurges.

“We’re looking at a similar wind event to when this fire first ignited three days ago,” Cal Fire incident commander Billy See said in a Wednesday afternoon press briefing. “We’re preparing for the worst-case scenario and hoping for the best. Our firefighters will be working to maintain lines.”

Ahead of the wind event, the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the North Bay mountains 1 p.m. Thursday through 6 p.m. Friday with gusts up to 30 mph possible at the highest elevations.

“This wind event is going to be serious enough for everyone to pay attention,” added Santa Rosa Fire Chief Anthony Gossner. “You need to pay attention. It’s vital. Everyone keeps asking how serious is it? We don’t know how serious it will be until it happens.”

Cal Fire officials will give an update on the fire in a briefing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. You can watch it online here.

Posted by CAL FIRE Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit on Thursday, October 1, 2020

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Mark Brunton gave an update on areas of concern at a Wednesday afternoon press briefing and said flames are threatening the community of Calistoga, with fire in the hillside above the town in the northern Napa Valley.

“We have resources there actively suppressing fire and doing structure defense,” said Brunton.

The fire pushed around the community of Angwin, east of Calistoga in the hills. “It’s still intact and hasn’t been affected by fire,” he said.

Firefighters are putting out hot spots in the Highway 29 and Highway 12 corridors and these areas remain a concern.

Gossner said crews are still putting out hot spots surrounding the retirement community of Oakmont. “There’s still significant properties we’re dealing with out there,” he said.

As strong, dry winds whipped the hills above Napa Valley, the Glass Fire sparked at 3:50 a.m. Sunday on the 200 block of North Fork Crystal Springs Road in the tiny community of Deer Park near St. Helena and Calistoga.

Flames roared across hills Sunday into Monday, destroying several homes in eastern Santa Rosa’s Skyhawk neighborhood, including “at least a dozen homes on the stretch of Mountain Hawk between Brigadoon Way and Nighthawk Drive,” according to the Press Democrat, which posted video footage on YouTube showing hot spots in Skyhawk.

The blaze jumped Highway 12 into Oakmont, triggering evacuations in the senior community.

Homes were destroyed and an elementary school severely damaged in Deer Park, the small community north of St. Helena. Nearby, flames engulfed the 40-year-old Chateau Boswell Winery and the Black Rock Inn on the Silverado Trail in St. Helena. At the time, the Napa County Office of Emergency Services said 64 wineries sit within the evacuation or evacuation warning areas.

In recent days, calmer winds and cooler temperatures have stalled the blaze’s growth, with the burn area growing only about 1,800 acres overnight Tuesday. Firefighters finally gained some containment, but the return of the winds could hamper progress.

This area about 45 miles north of San Francisco is once again facing devastation as it nears the third anniversary of deadly wildfires that erupted in 2017, including one that killed 22 people. Just a month ago, many of those same residents were evacuated from the path of the lightning-sparked LNU Complex that became the fourth-largest wildfire in state history.

California has been devastated by a record-breaking wildfire season in 2020. More than 8,100 California wildfires have now killed 30 people, scorched more than 5,600 square miles, and destroyed more than 7,000 buildings.

There are currently over 17,000 firefighters battling 23 significant wildfires in California, Cal Fire reported Thursday. As flames continue to ravage the state’s parched landscape, Newsom declared a state of emergency for Shasta, Napa and Sonoma counties late Monday because of the fires that “have burned tens of thousands of acres, destroyed homes and critical infrastructure and caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents,” according to a press release.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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Amy Graff is the news editor for SFGATE. Email her: [email protected]

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