Subscribe

Tuesday updates: Residents northwest of Calistoga ordered to evacuate

7:58 PM: New evacuation orders issued near Calistoga, fire grows to 46,600 acres

Activity on the Glass fire prompted new evacuation orders in Napa County northwest of Calistoga Tuesday evening, officials said.

They spanned all areas west of Route 29 at Highway 128 to the Sonoma County line between Diamond Mountain Road and Petrified Forest Road, the Napa County Office of Emergency Services announced in a Nixle Alert sent out at 7:43 p.m.

Flames were pushing northwest, west of Highway 29, creating “an imminent danger” to the residents there, said Erick Hernandez, a Cal Fire spokesman.

Backburning was underway to keep the fire from entering the town, as well as Petrified Forest and Franz Valley School roads, he said.

Crews were also monitoring the area east of the Silverado Trail for spot fires.

“We have crews in the area to make sure it doesn’t come into the town of Calistoga,” Hernandez said.

The Glass fire grew to 46,600 acres by Tuesday afternoon, consuming roughly 4,000 acres over the course of the day, Cal fire said.

Fire crews also claimed 2% containment over the blaze on Tuesday, establishing control on a portion of the fire for the first time since it sparked early Sunday.

Homes and other buildings that came under threat of the flames continued to be a priority for firefighters working on the blaze, as were building new containment lines and reinforcing lines they’ve already carved out, Cal Fire said.

Smoky conditions and poor visibility continued to prevent aerial firefighting on Tuesday. Hot and dry weather is forecast in the next several days, Cal Fire noted.

Highway 29 was closed in all directions at Tubbs Lane and Deer Park Road, as was Highway 128 at Petrified Forest Road, the Napa County Office of Emergency Services announced earlier Tuesday afternoon.

7:15 PM: 14,600 still without power in Napa and Sonoma counties

Crews have restored power 7,000 customers in Sonoma and Napa counties Tuesday as the Glass fire continued to burn, though about 14,600 remained without power as of 5 p.m., a PG&E spokesman said.

The power outages were a result of damage from the Glass fire itself or because the utility has proactively turned off electricity at the request of fire officials, the company said.

Of those without power, about 8,400 customers are in Sonoma County and the remaining are from Napa County.

6:40 PM: More than 19,000 remain under evacuation orders in Sonoma County

An estimated 19,000 people in Sonoma County remained under evacuation orders due to the Glass fire Tuesday afternoon, nearly 13,000 of which live within the Santa Rosa city limits and the rest from unincorporated Sonoma County, according to information provided by Sonoma County Director of Emergency Management Chris Godley and Santa Rosa city spokeswoman Adriane Mertens.

Tuesday’s evacuation totals were a fraction of the 68,000 residents countywide who had been told to leave their homes by Monday afternoon.

All but 173 of the 22,631 people cautioned they may need leave their homes due to the Glass Fire within Sonoma County were from Santa Rosa.

The number of people staying at evacuation shelters throughout the county also dipped from 350 on Sunday night, when the blaze rolled into Sonoma County from Napa County, to 275 Monday, Godley said during a Tuesday evening news conference.

The decline and downgraded evacuation orders in east Santa Rosa has led county officials to consider consolidating the number of shelters operating in the county, he said.

“We’re seeing some individuals not only being able to find other locations but now being able to return home, especially in Santa Rosa,” Godley said.

Since the start of the Glass fire, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office has contacted five people in evacuated areas who “had no business being there,” Sonoma County Sheriff’s Sgt. Juan Valencia said during the news briefing.

Of the five people arrested for entering an area closed by evacuation orders, one person additionally had an outstanding warrant and another person was found to be in violation of their probation, Valencia said.

The agency, which runs the county’s coroner’s office, has not learned of any fatalities as a result of the Glass fire, Valencia added.

Santa Rosa Police Chief Ray Navarro said the department has received some reports about missing people since the start of the Glass fire, though the department’s officers have been able to locate those individuals.

People with concerns about missing Santa Rosa residents can call the department at 707-528-5222, he said.

Editor’s Note: Estimates for the number of people under evacuation orders and warnings in Sonoma County due to the Glass fire Tuesday were updated to reflect new information provided by Santa Rosa officials.

5:30 PM: Residents return to Skyhawk homes after evacuation order lifted

Relieved residents of the Skyhawk subdivision in east Santa Rosa streamed back to their homes on Tuesday afternoon after authorities lifted a mandatory evacuation order for the area.

They arrived under mostly blue skies, but with the smell of fire in the air. The charred hillsides above the neighborhood were covered by firefighting foam. And the white stone cross that has long marked the slope above these homes sat in even more stark relief amid the blackened vegetation around it.

A billowing cloud of smoke on the ridgetop below punctuated the homecoming, drawing uneasy gazes and an overflight by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, checking to see on the source. No immediate update was available.

Early arrivals found empty water bottles strewn about lawns and discarded fire hoses left behind on sidewalks. Cars sat in driveways covered in soot from the blaze that destroyed at least 15 homes in the area.

Mark Strika, 56, and his son Nick, 25, returned to find their house still standing on the corner of Sailing Hawk Avenue and Nighthawk Drive. They lost their prior home in Fountaingrove during the Tubbs fire in 2017 and had to evacuate during last year’s Kincade fire.

“It just looks normal, which is kind of surreal,” said the younger Strika. “Though, we know it’s just right over there that it’s not. It’s weird, but now I’m starting to get used it,” he said of being forced to flee his home.

“You don’t get used to it, but I don’t think you build a panic as much as when you’ve been through it for three fires,” his father added. “It’s just that every year you prepare for it.”

5 PM: Watch Sonoma County’s press conference on the Glass fire

3:40 PM: Roughly 22,000 PG&E customers in Sonoma and Napa counties still without power

Around 22,000 PG&E customers in Sonoma and Napa counties are still without power due to wildfires.

In Sonoma County, that includes around 13,000 customers in the Santa Rosa, Kenwood and Glen Ellen areas. In Napa County, roughly 9,000 customers in St. Helena, Calistoga, Deer Park, Oakville, Pope Valley, Napa and Angwin are without electricity.

That’s down from close to 15,000 customers in Sonoma County and 10,000 in Napa County as of Monday night.

In Sonoma County, outages are primarily in areas currently under evacuation orders. Blackouts extend beyond evacuation zones in Napa County, including to the burn area of the Hennessey fire, which is almost entirely contained.

Matt Nauman, a PG&E spokesperson, said in most of those areas, either the utility cut power at the request of firefighters to ensure their safety or that flames had damaged equipment, causing additional outages.

PG&E has also shut off gas service for around 4,700 customers in Napa and Sonoma counties where there have been wildfire threats or equipment damage.

The utility was unable to provide an estimate for when power might be restored.

“We’ll work with firefighters to gain access to areas within the fire footprint, when it’s safe to do so, so we can assess damage to our equipment,” Nauman said in an email. “Then we’ll be able to make repairs and restore power to damaged areas safely and as quickly as possible.”

View a map of current outages here.

3:15 PM: Cal Fire downgrades some orders, lifts warnings

Evacuation orders in parts of east Santa Rosa were downgraded to warnings Tuesday afternoon, Cal Fire announced.

Those areas were:

–All of Summerfield

– All of Spring Lake

– Northeast 1

– Northeast 3/Middle Rincon

– Certain parts of the Calistoga-South/Skyhawk communities: west and north of Mountain Hawk Drive between Highway 12 and San Ramon Way, as well as west of San Ramon Way.

– Melita in the following areas: west of Calistoga Road and south of Melita Road, north of Montgomery Drive and every home accessed from Violetti Road.

Evacuation warnings were also lifted for the following evacuation zones in Santa Rosa:

– East 1

– East 2

– East 3

Go here to see a labeled map of the evacuation zones in Sonoma County.

12:30 PM: Firefighters continue battling flames in east Santa Rosa, Calistoga areas

Firefighters’ top priorities in battling the Glass fire remain protecting neighborhoods in the east Santa Rosa area, in addition to shielding rural communities near Calistoga in Napa County from the blaze, fire officials said in a morning Cal Fire briefing.

In and near east Santa Rosa, firefighters are working to guard homes along the upper part of Calistoga Road and the Highway 12 corridor, and to establish fire breaks in nearby Trione-Annadel State Park, which has been hit by flames.

“The Calistoga Road area is very active, and we’re trying to punch control lines from just before the county line into Napa County,” said Cal Fire operations chief Mark Brunton.

Since yesterday, Brunton said that flames have receded along the lower part of Calistoga Road and the Highway 12 corridor.

Officials said firefighters have had “good success” containing flames in Trione-Annadel State Park, which buffers some Santa Rosa neighborhoods from the blaze. Fire crews are using trail systems in the park to set up fire breaks.

Flames have also reached Sugarloaf Ridge State Park to the east, and officials described it as an area of concern. Firefighters are working to connect old control lines from the 2017 North Bay fires to halt the blaze in the park.

Meanwhile, persistent smoky conditions continue to keep air support from aiding the firefighters in Sonoma County, officials said.

In Napa County, firefighters are battling growing flames now threatening the community of Angwin and burning toward Pope Valley, east of Calistoga. Authorities issued a mandatory evacuation order for the Angwin area this morning.

Officials said air tankers are now “aggressively” helping fire crews in the area, where the sky is clear of smoke.

“With the aircraft and our ground resources, we were able to keep the fire checked up as best we can and herded the fire around the community of Angwin,” Brunton said.

10:40 AM: Smoke grounds aircraft Tuesday morning

Nearly 1,500 firefighters are now battling flames on the Glass fire straddling Napa and Sonoma counties in substantially calmer conditions than those that drove the blaze across the Mayacamas Mountains on Sunday night.

Whether aircraft will join the effort remained in question early Tuesday, given a marine layer that came in overnight and was holding dense smoke against the earth’s surface.

“Aircraft are going to be dependent on the smoke,” Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls said, “so as long as we’ve got this smoke layer overhead, they won’t be operating.”

Planes were grounded Monday for the same reason.

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service said the inversion layer should lift early this afternoon, for a few hours, at least, potentially allowing fixed wing aircraft like tankers to fly. It’s a cycle expected to repeat for several days.

“Early this afternoon that should break and lift, but it’s only going to be temporary, because it looks as if that’s going to come back down again this evening and settle in toward the surface again,” meteorologist Drew Peterson said.

Nicholls said helicopters, which fly at a lower level than fixed wing planes, may be able to operate if the smoke cleared a bit before then.

“We have National Guard Type 1 helicopters coming into the incident today,” he said.

As of Tuesday morning, there were 200 engine crews already assigned to the 42,560-acre fire, as well as 57 bulldozer crews and 22 water tenders. Seven helicopters also were assigned, according to Cal Fire.

10:30 AM: New evacuation order issued for community of Angwin in Napa County

Authorities have issued a mandatory evacuation order for the community of Angwin east of Calistoga.

The order covers areas south of Chiles Pope Valley Road, east of Ink Grade Road and west of Pope Valley Cross Road.

All evacuation warnings for the Angwin area have been upgraded to evacuation orders.

10:15 AM: Glass fire at 42,560 acres; 28 Sonoma County homes lost

The Glass fire has reached 42,560 acres in size and remained completely uncontained Tuesday morning, according to the most recent assessment from Cal Fire.

An initial count of structural losses from the Glass fire indicates 28 single-family homes in Sonoma County were destroyed by the blaze, most of them in the dark Sunday night and Monday morning as the wildfire made its initial assault on the county coming over the hills from Napa County, according to Cal Fire.

Another 15 minor structures also were destroyed, though Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls said all numbers are likely to rise as more information is known in the coming days.

“Those are early,” Nicholls said. “That will grow. But yeah. I was able to get out to Skyhawk yesterday and into Oakmont, and the firefighters made some great saves out there. Definitely saved more than they lost.”

In Napa county structures losses include 52 homes, a commercial building and 17 minor structures since the wildfire started at 3:50 a.m. Sunday off Crystal Springs Road on the east side of the Napa Valley.

Tens of thousands of people, including the entire city of Calistoga and more than 68,000 people in Sonoma County, remain under evacuation orders.

8:30 AM: Fire grew overnight, but no new evacuations and fire officials are optimistic

The Glass fire grew by several thousand acres overnight, but officials called no new evacuations and are optimistic about favorable weather conditions for the firefight Tuesday.

Sonoma County Fire Chief Mark Heine said an inability to use aircraft for fire suppression or mapping Monday made precise size estimates of the fire challenging.

The fire was listed at 36,236 acres Monday night. Heine said it had grown by at least 4,000 acres overnight. There is no containment still and no new figures on structures destroyed were available yet early Tuesday.

Heine said the fire “laid down” a little Monday night because of slightly higher humidity and reduced winds in some areas.

Winds were swifter along Calistoga and St. Helena Roads, though, he said.

“Today is what we call a turnaround day,” where the winds will change direction, bringing cooler and moister ocean breezes.

On Tuesday, Cal Fire will officially take over management of the fire. The agency hadn’t issued updates as of Tuesday morning.

Tuesday’s focus will be on the Highway 12 corridor and Trione-Annadel State Park, lower Calistoga Road around the Skyhawk area and upper Calistoga Road in the hills, Heine said.

He said he felt better today about the fire than Monday.

“The first couple days were challenged by high temperatures and winds,” he said. “The winds have subsided a bit. We’re in better shape weather-wise today and we will be getting more firefighting resources today and next few days, which will help.”

7:30 AM: No new evacuation orders overnight, weather looks promising Tuesday

Officials expressed optimism for the Glass fire Tuesday after favorable overnight weather that could help firefighters make progress fighting the flames.

The fire caused no new evacuation orders in Sonoma County overnight and those under warning remained in that status.

“Considering the way the first day went, that’s nothing short of a miracle,” the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office reported on it’s Facebook page.

“There’s still plenty of burning occurring, so were not out of the woods yet. This is the first time in our recent fire history we’ve had a good night this early into the disaster. The weather cooled down overnight and the winds were less than anticipated. Let’s enter today with some cautious optimism.”

Satellite imagery and webcams showed the Glass fire continued to burn actively overnight, the National Weather Service said early Tuesday.

“Compared to 24 hours ago, conditions have improved with slightly higher (relative humidity) and cooler temps. Then again, yesterday was an extreme situation,” its forecast said.

“Currently temperatures near the fire remain mild with little in the way of humidity recovery (less than 30%) overnight.”

Winds have dropped from their peak on Monday, but there are still some breezy conditions over the highest peaks, the service said.

Today will be another hot and relatively dry day.

The service posted a three-hour time-lapse video of the fire and wind conditions Monday.

Winds Tuesday are projected to remain offshore through afternoon before switching to onshore, which will help bring some higher humidity to the low elevations of the fire, especially near Santa Rosa.

On the flip side, the weather service said, the change in direction could also push the fire in new directions. The winds don`t look overly strong, the forecast said.

In Santa Rosa, the junior college announced it would remain closed Tuesday.

“Due to impacts from the Shady fire, including ongoing evacuations and power outages in Sonoma County, SRJC will remain closed...All activities and classes, including online classes and services, are canceled,” its statement said.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @loriacarter.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine