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99 percent containment on Sonoma County fires

Firefighters drag fire as they monitor the progress of a backfire, Saturday Oct. 14, 2017 around the Buena Vista Winery grounds in Sonoma. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2017

RANDI ROSSMANN,

With active fires extinguished and containment of Sonoma County’s three blazes at 99 percent, a handful of crews Monday continued monitoring the Tubbs, Nuns and Pocket fires burn areas, according to officials.

Full containment is expected later this week on the three‑week‑old wildfires, which burned more than 110,000 acres, killed at least 23 Sonoma County residents and displaced thousands of residents by destroying almost 7,000 buildings, mainly homes.

Wide fire lines circle the burn scars of what had been the three blazes, but hot spots remain. Those include blackened trees, capable of smoldering for a few weeks, fire officials said. Such stumps and roots occasionally generate wafts of smoke, precipitating a firefighting response.

The biggest flare-up in days occurred Sunday on the Pocket fire in the hills above Geyserville when Sunday afternoon as many as 5 acres of unburned land caught fire from a hot spot, said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Marshal Turbeville.

The small fire was well within overall containment lines, and a helicopter crew and firefighters doused it.

What had been an army of more than 6,000 firefighters on the three fires was 143 by Monday, mainly state firefighters stationed in the county, officials said.

Monday, two fire engines patrolled the Pocket fire and three were on the Tubbs fire, Turbeville said. The Tubbs fire burned 36,807 acres.

For the Nuns fire, Glen Ellen and Cal Fire engines on duty were responding to any reports of smoke.

“We’ve mopped up 100-200 feet in” from the containment lines, said Sonoma Valley Fire Chief Steve Akre, regarding efforts to fully extinguish the Nuns fire, which burned 56,556 acres. “We feel very good about how we’ve been able to mop up.”

But until more days go by without any significant flaring issues, fire officials are holding off calling the fires completely out.

“We’re not completely confident to call it fully contained,” Turbeville said.

The Atlas, Redwood Valley and Sulphur fires, in Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties, are fully contained.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707-521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com.