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A look back at wildfires in Sonoma County and on the North Coast

Historic North Coast Wildfires

2019 - Kincade Fire - largest fire in Sonoma County history, burnt approximately 77,758 acres in Sonoma County, destroyed 374 structures

2018 - Mendocino Complex - burned approximately 459,123 acres in Mendocino, Lake, Colusa & Glen counties; destroyed 280 structures and killed one person

2017 - Tubbs Fire - burned approximately 36,807 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties, destroyed 5,636 structures and killed 22 people

2017 - Nuns Fire - burned approximately 54,000 acres (34,398 in Sonoma County and 20,025 in Napa County), destroyed 1,355 structures and killed 3 people

2017 - Atlas Fire - burned approximately 51,624 acres in Napa and Solano Counties, destroyed 120 structures and killed 6 people

2017 - Redwood Valley Fire - burned approximately 36,523 acres in Mendocino County, destroyed 546 structures and killed 9 people

2017 - Pocket Fire - burned approximately 14,225 acres in Sonoma County, destroyed 6 structures

2017 - Sulphur Fire - burned approximately 2,207 acres in Lake County, destroyed 162 structures

(TOTAL 2017 North Bay fires - 195,768 acres)

2015 - Valley Fire - burned approximately 76,067 acres in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties, destroyed 1,955 structures and killed 4 people

2012 - North Pass Fire - burned approximately 41,983 acres in Mendocino County

2004 - Rumsey Fire - burned approximately 39,138 acres in Napa and Yolo counties

2004 - Geysers Fire - started around Geyserville and burned approximately 12,525 acres and destroyed 33 structures in Lake County

1996 - Fork Fire - burned approximately 83,057 acres in Lake County. Much of the devastation was focused in the Mendocino National Forest

1996 - Porter Creek Fire - burned approximately 300 acres in Sonoma County

1981 - Atlas Peak Fire - burned approximately 23 thousand acres in Napa County

1981 - Cow Mountain Fire - burned approximately 25,534 acres in Lake and Mendocino counties.

1978 - Creighton Ridge Fire - burned over 11,000 acres in Sonoma County

1966 - Cavedale Fire - A second fire near Cavedale Road in Sonoma struck the valley in 1966

1964 - Hanly Fire - burned approximately 52,700 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties. 84 homes, 24 summer cabins and countless farm buildings destroyed including the historic Tubbs Mansion

1964 - Nunns Canyon Fire - burned approximately 7,000 acres in Sonoma County

1961 - Guerneville Fire - burned approximately 5,800 acres, destroying several structures including 18 homes and $500,000 worth of timber

1925 - Cavedale Fire - burned several acres in Sonoma Valley

1923 - Sonoma Valley* - A fast-moving September blaze leveled the town of Boyes Hot Springs and destroyed several structures in the Sonoma Valley towns of Sonoma Vista and Caliente Springs

1923 - Gurneville Fire* - The September blaze began above Armstrong Grove, threatened Guerneville and burned all the way to Jenner

- Source: CAL Fire and Press Democrat reports

*Official name unknown.

As Gaye LeBaron reminded us in her column last week, wildfires are common in our region. Tales of historic blazes are passed down from generation to generation.

While the Kincade fire, which was fully contained Nov. 6 after torching 77,758 acres, is the largest fire in Sonoma County history, the deadly 2017 firestorm caused the most damage, leveling 5,643 structures. Combined with the five other fires that ravaged the North Bay in 2017, the Tubbs, Nuns, Atlas, Redwood Valley, Pocket and Sulphur fires destroyed over 195,000 acres, according to Cal Fire.

Other historic fires include the Valley fire, which took down 76,067 acres in Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties in 2015; the North Pass fire, which destroyed 41,983 acres in Mendocino County in 2012; and the Rumsey fire, which destroyed 39,138 acres in Napa and Yolo counties in 2004.

The paths these fires take through our communities are generally the same. Sonoma County alone has four historic wildfire corridors, including the Tubbs fire zone (scene of the Hanly fire in 1964), Sonoma Valley (scene of the Cavedale fires in 1925 and 1966), the Geysers (with fires in 1988, 1991, 1999, 2004 and 2019) and the Guerneville area (hit by major fires in 1923, 1961 and 1981), to name a few.

For more photos and a timeline of other historic wildfires that have blazed through Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Yolo counties, go to pressdemocrat.com.

Janet Balicki Weber

Historic North Coast Wildfires

2019 - Kincade Fire - largest fire in Sonoma County history, burnt approximately 77,758 acres in Sonoma County, destroyed 374 structures

2018 - Mendocino Complex - burned approximately 459,123 acres in Mendocino, Lake, Colusa & Glen counties; destroyed 280 structures and killed one person

2017 - Tubbs Fire - burned approximately 36,807 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties, destroyed 5,636 structures and killed 22 people

2017 - Nuns Fire - burned approximately 54,000 acres (34,398 in Sonoma County and 20,025 in Napa County), destroyed 1,355 structures and killed 3 people

2017 - Atlas Fire - burned approximately 51,624 acres in Napa and Solano Counties, destroyed 120 structures and killed 6 people

2017 - Redwood Valley Fire - burned approximately 36,523 acres in Mendocino County, destroyed 546 structures and killed 9 people

2017 - Pocket Fire - burned approximately 14,225 acres in Sonoma County, destroyed 6 structures

2017 - Sulphur Fire - burned approximately 2,207 acres in Lake County, destroyed 162 structures

(TOTAL 2017 North Bay fires - 195,768 acres)

2015 - Valley Fire - burned approximately 76,067 acres in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties, destroyed 1,955 structures and killed 4 people

2012 - North Pass Fire - burned approximately 41,983 acres in Mendocino County

2004 - Rumsey Fire - burned approximately 39,138 acres in Napa and Yolo counties

2004 - Geysers Fire - started around Geyserville and burned approximately 12,525 acres and destroyed 33 structures in Lake County

1996 - Fork Fire - burned approximately 83,057 acres in Lake County. Much of the devastation was focused in the Mendocino National Forest

1996 - Porter Creek Fire - burned approximately 300 acres in Sonoma County

1981 - Atlas Peak Fire - burned approximately 23 thousand acres in Napa County

1981 - Cow Mountain Fire - burned approximately 25,534 acres in Lake and Mendocino counties.

1978 - Creighton Ridge Fire - burned over 11,000 acres in Sonoma County

1966 - Cavedale Fire - A second fire near Cavedale Road in Sonoma struck the valley in 1966

1964 - Hanly Fire - burned approximately 52,700 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties. 84 homes, 24 summer cabins and countless farm buildings destroyed including the historic Tubbs Mansion

1964 - Nunns Canyon Fire - burned approximately 7,000 acres in Sonoma County

1961 - Guerneville Fire - burned approximately 5,800 acres, destroying several structures including 18 homes and $500,000 worth of timber

1925 - Cavedale Fire - burned several acres in Sonoma Valley

1923 - Sonoma Valley* - A fast-moving September blaze leveled the town of Boyes Hot Springs and destroyed several structures in the Sonoma Valley towns of Sonoma Vista and Caliente Springs

1923 - Gurneville Fire* - The September blaze began above Armstrong Grove, threatened Guerneville and burned all the way to Jenner

- Source: CAL Fire and Press Democrat reports

*Official name unknown.

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