Fire toll now 35; in Santa Rosa 19 dead, $1.2B damage; 50K evacuees
Here’s a quick take on the latest news about the active fires in Sonoma County, plus news from Mendocino, Lake and other North Bay counties.
A large wildland blaze burning in Mendocino County Friday night remained at 34,000 acres but containment had increased to 20 percent, according to Cal Fire.
The fire, spread from Redwood to Potter valley, continued to burn northward, toward Pine Mountain, Tomki, Foster Mountain and the Van Arsdale reservoir.
Cal Fire officials also reported there were 2,230 people working on that fire as well as the Sulphur fire in Clearlake – the majority on the Mendocino County fire.
For the two fires, 314 homes were destroyed, two businesses damaged and 1,000 buildings remain threatened. Lake County sheriff’s Lt. Corey Paulich said at least 160 structures were destroyed in the fire in Clearlake, which burned inside and outside the city limits up to Clear Lake.
Sulphur fire-area residents were allowed to return home Friday afternoon but officials warned residents of ongoing repairs and work. The fire was considered 60 percent contained.
Total tallies for the fires burning in Sonoma County and stretching into neighboring counties Friday night totaled 92,370 acres with 2,900 people assigned, many coming from out-of-state.
Throughout the region, the fires still threaten 33,943 buildings, destroyed 2017 - mainly homes - and damaged 60 structures, according to a Cal Fire summary.
Nineteen people have died in the Tubbs fire.
Those numbers are for the Tubbs, Pocket and Nuns fires.
Fires continued to blacken thousands of acres throughout the region Friday as firefighters battled to hold them in check ahead of a predicted windy night that as of 8:30 p.m. remained fairly calm, at least in the valleys.
The Tubbs fire, stretching from Mount St. Helena in Lake County well into Santa Rosa grew by 550 acres, and now is at 35,270 acres.
Much of the expansion was in Lake County on the mountain.
But firefighters also increased the containment circle to 44 percent, up from 25 percent Friday morning.
In northern Sonoma County the Pocket fire took off in two directions Friday and grew by 1,000 acres and remained at five percent containment.
To the east, the Nuns fire, which now is a combination of four blazes stretching from Napa County to the Mayacama range into Napa County and south to Bennett Valley, was at 46,000 acres by day’s end, an increase of about 2,500 acres. Progress on containment lines increased to 10 percent.
A new brush fire started Friday evening off Pythian Road and Highway 12 near Oakmont just before 4 p.m. but that had been contained.
In Bennett Valley Friday no new issues arose and firefighters patrolled the edges of the fire in the upper hillsides and continued to work on containment lines, said Bennett Valley Battalion Chief Darrin DeCarli. “Hopefully the work we’ve done in the last 2-3 days continues to pay off,” he said.
In another stretch of that fire, crews conducted backfiring operations in the Trione-Annadel State Park, burning as much as 200 acres to try to halt the fire’s spread in there. The park is heavily used by hikers, and bike and horse riders and a substantial amount of it has burned, according to maps of the fire.
In the wake of Sonoma County fires, 235 people remain unaccounted for, Sheriff Rob Giordano said Friday evening at a press conference.
There have been 1,485 reports of missing people in Sonoma County; of those 1,250 have been located and are safe, Giordano said.
The Santa Rosa Fire Department and the Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services office were working Friday creating a team to survey facilities that store hazardous waste, Santa Rosa Fire Department’s Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal said.
Inspections of such facilities, such as gas stations, will start Saturday morning in Santa Rosa and other areas touched by the Tubbs fire, he said.
“It’s evaluating those facilities and figuring out what the needs are and what clean up is needed and which facilities are closed down,” he said.
It’s not immediately clear how many facilities will require inspections or how long the effort will be ongoing.
As the death toll from the North Bay fires rose to 35 with the discovery of remains of a 19th body found in Santa Rosa, the Tubbs fire continued to chew up hundreds of acres in Lake County Friday afternoon as it wrapped around Mount St. Helena, according to a Lake County Cal Fire official monitoring both.
“We’re seeing a lot of activity from the Pocket and the Tubbs fires, coming across Mount St. Helena,” said Greg Bertelli, Cal Fire division chief in Lake County.