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Fire, smoke damages Windsor winery warehouse

A fire sparked by staining rags badly damaged at a Windsor winery warehouse Tuesday night, a Sonoma County Fire District official said.

The blaze at Notre Vue Estate Winery and Vineyard on Hillview Road was reported about 8:40 p.m. Firefighters found flames outside and in a portion of the 11,000-square-foot building when they arrived, said Cyndi Foreman, spokeswoman for the fire district.

The fire appeared to have started just outside the building that houses a tasting room, offices and a warehouse where wine barrels are stored and spread to one area inside, but there was smoke and heat damage throughout, Foreman said. The blaze caused about $500,000 in damage to the building.

Kirk Tomiser, national sales and marketing manager for the winery, said it is still unclear whether any wine was damaged. The total value of their inventory is $2 million, but the loss of wine will be much lower, he said.

“That’s assuming we lose anything, because there’s a chance we won’t lose anything, but we don’t know that just yet,” he said.

Fire officials initially reported a possible loss of $2 million in wine.

The winery has been open since 1992 and previously operated under the name Windsor Oaks, Tomiser said. It sits on a 710-acre property, including 250 acres of vineyards and 350 acres of open space, and it largely produces chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and red blend wines, he said.

All scheduled events at the winery will proceed as normal in a temporary outdoor tasting room, Tomiser said.

“We’re going to take advantage of the weather, and we’re going to put up a tent,” he said.

Investigators found staining rags and rollers outside where the fire began, Foreman said. “They had been doing some staining work on the property earlier that afternoon,” she said.

Staining products are highly flammable and when the fluid dries on rags, the cloth can combust. Such materials should be stored in a metal can with a lid to eliminate oxygen, which is needed to create the combustion.

Tomiser said the winery was still working with investigators to determine the cause of the fire, but Foreman said the fire district’s investigation concluded the staining rags caused the fire.

Sonoma County Fire, Santa Rosa, Healdsburg and Forestville firefighters responded to the blaze.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707-521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter@rossmannreport. You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Beale 707-521-5205 or andrew.beale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter ?@iambeale.

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