Cold fire near Lake Berryessa grows to 4,700 acres
More than 24 hours into a fast-moving fire east of Lake Berryessa, the scorched-acre tally was at 4,700 acres and growing. The blaze Wednesday afternoon continued to spread north, but away from threatened homes.
Evacuation orders remained for residents of a 35-home neighborhood west of Winters as well as a nearby RV park. The fire still threatened Golden Bear Estates and Canyon Creek Campground, and it wasn't known Wednesday when residents would be allowed home, said Paul Lowenthal, a public information officer for the fire and Santa Rosa's assistant fire marshal.
“We know they are eager to get home, but the fire is less than 24 hours old,” he said. With the chance of winds changing direction and solid containment lines still under construction, fire officials were keeping the evacuation order in place.
A few evacuees had taken advantage of a Red Cross shelter set up in Winters Tuesday night but the shelter closed Wednesday due to lack of use.
Officials estimated the fire remained 15 percent contained.
Firefighting efforts Wednesday concentrated on the northward spread, officials said. To the south, crews worked to hold the fire above Highway 128, which stretches from Lake Berryessa east to Winters.
The fire is burning in Yolo County, along the eastern edge of Napa County. It's scorching expanses of very dry, rugged terrain covered in oak trees and grasses. No structures had been lost as of Wednesday night, and no injuries were yet reported.
Power lines along Highway 128 were threatened and officials closed the road between Monticello dam and Pleasant Valley Road.
Where the fire started and how were under investigation Wednesday by Cal Fire.
First reports of the fire came in about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in an area southeast of the lake, near Monticello dam, Highway 128 and Pleasant Valley Road.
Firefighters found 200 acres already burned, with strong winds exacerbating the situation. It was dubbed the Cold fire after the nearby Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve.
By Wednesday morning it had grown to about 2,200 acres. Officials added 200 more firefighters to the effort, dispatching a force of 700 people, 86 engines, eight helicopters and six air tankers to fight the blaze.
The blaze is moving through an area burned in July 2014 during the 6,500-acre Monticello fire, and just northeast of August 2015's 8,051-acre Wragg fire. The location is helping firefighters somewhat, as they are using containment plans from the Monticello fire to help attack the blaze and box it in, Lowenthal said.
Almost two weeks ago, Sonoma County fire agencies sent 13 fire engines and 55 or so firefighters to the now nearly 46,000-acre Soberanes fire in Monterey County near Big Sur. They remain on that assignment, capping the number of personnel and engines the county can spare for distant fires in case of a serious local fire, according to Sonoma County fire officials.
But if a request comes for help with the Cold fire, local agencies likely would send people and equipment due to the proximity of the Lake Berryessa blaze, said Gold Ridge Fire Chief Dan George, who supervises strike team deployments.
Staff Writer Christi Warren contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter@rossmannreport.