As firefighters anticipate full containment of the deadly Sonoma County wildfires by Wednesday, an evacuation order was lifted in eastern portions of the Sonoma Valley and more residents were allowed to visit burned areas Saturday.
Sonoma County officials opened damaged areas of Bennett Valley, Kenwood and Glen Ellen for limited visits by residents with a valid ID on Saturday and today.
Mark West Springs Road, from Santa Rosa to Calistoga, and Old Redwood Highway through Larkfield, remained closed as crews continued to replace downed power lines and torched utility poles, CHP spokesman Jon Sloat said.
Highway 12 was opened Friday evening, allowing traffic to flow directly from Santa Rosa to Sonoma for the first time in nearly two weeks.
In Santa Rosa, however, some roads remained restricted. The Hopper Avenue exit on Highway 101 southbound and the Mendocino Avenue/Old Redwood Highway exit on Highway 101 northbound remain closed through the weekend, Sloat said.
Traffic was heavy throughout the day on Highway 101 in north Santa Rosa as motorists slowed to view the burned-out areas, Sloat said.
More than 30 road closures remain in effect throughout charred areas, including many roads off Highway 12. For information on closures, go to roadconditions.sonoma-county.org.
“The amount of damage, the enormity of it, can’t be exaggerated,” Sloat said in a text message. “But the response can’t either. There are many people trying to restore normalcy.”
The number of reported missing people from wildfires increased Saturday from 19 to 25 people, said Misti Harris, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.
“The numbers change by the hour,” Harris said by email. “New reports are still coming in.”
Fire-related fatalities in Sonoma County remained at 23 Saturday, Harris said. A total of 42 deaths have been reported in Northern California fires since Oct. 8.
Containment numbers for North Coast fires increased slightly throughout the day. In Sonoma County, the Nuns fire was at 86 percent containment, the Pocket fire at 85 percent and the Tubbs fire at 94 percent, Cal Fire reported Saturday evening. The three fires have burned 110,366 acres since Oct. 8, Cal Fire said.
In Napa and Solano counties, the Atlas fire stood at 90 percent containment after scorching 51,624 acres and 459 homes, Cal Fire reported Saturday evening.
In Mendocino County, the Redwood Valley fire remained at 95 percent containment Saturday after burning 36,523 acres and causing eight deaths, Cal Fire said.
The Sulfur fire in Lake County was 96 percent contained after burning 2,207 acres on the edge of Clear Lake, Cal Fire reported.
In Sacramento, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Saturday allowing the federal government to help with the initial removal of hazardous waste that poses an imminent threat to public health and safety.
The executive order allows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assist state and local officials in immediately removing visible hazardous debris such as batteries, flammable liquids, asbestos siding, paint and pipe insulation from burned homes.
You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @nrahaim