Kincade fire in Sonoma County fully contained
Firefighters fully contained the 2-week-old Kincade fire Wednesday night - a day earlier than Cal Fire predicted.
“I think firefighters obviously are breathing a sigh of relief right now,” said Cal Fire Division Chief Jonathan Cox. “It was a long and actually one of the more difficult firefights we’ve had in a while.”
Sonoma County’s largest?-ever fire sparked the evening of Oct. 23 near a malfunctioning PG&E transmission tower close to The Geysers geothermal plant in north Sonoma County. Since then, it has burned 77,758 acres and destroyed 374 buildings, prompting the largest mass evacuation in county history. At the blaze’s worst, it creeped into the outskirts of Windsor and threatened to enter northeast Santa Rosa along the same path as the deadly 2017 Tubbs fire.
Unlike the 2017 North Bay fires, no one died because of the blaze. But four firefighters were injured as they tackled the flames.
Wednesday morning, Cal Fire reported that the Kincade fire was 88% contained. But by 7 p.m. that evening, the agency said the blaze was 100% encircled.
Many Cal Fire officials are leaving now, and the local Cal Fire ranger unit will manage the remaining work on the fire, said Sonoma County Fire Chief Mark Heine. Remaining personnel will continue to mop up and patrol the area for any additional smoke, Cox said.
As well as fire bosses, hundreds more firefighters headed home Tuesday and Wednesday. As of Wednesday night, there were just 55 firefighters still assigned to the incident, down from the peak of 5,245 people on the fire line when the blaze raged, buffeted by fierce wind gusts, and threatened Windsor, Healdsburg, Wikiup and Larkfield.
PG&E also made progress Wednesday in restoring power and natural gas to customers within the fire zone.
The utility turned off gas to 24,600 customers near the blaze Oct. 27 as a precaution. By Wednesday night, 250 customers remained without gas, said PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras. Customers who still don’t have gas should call 800-PGE-5000 to make an appointment for crews to restore service, she said.
Meanwhile, about 330 customers were still without power Wednesday night, Contreras said. The Kincade fire damaged parts of PG&E’s infrastructure last week, causing 1,400 customers in the area to lose power. More than 440 power poles needed to be replaced because of the damage, Contreras said.
The thousands of firefighters who tackled the blaze were from 506 agencies, including 159 agencies located outside of California. Sixteen Colorado fire departments responded, as well as 11 from Montana, 15 from Idaho and 21 from Washington state, according to a Cal Fire list.
The most came from Oregon, where 54 fire agencies sent firefighters, engines and equipment to Sonoma County to help - for some, not for the first time.
At the height of the 2017 Tubbs and Nuns wildfires in Sonoma County, there were about 6,700 firefighters from 382 agencies across the country and Australia.
“We can’t do it alone. These large wildland fires start, affecting towns and cities, it takes a lot of personnel and help,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Marshall Turbeville, who also is fire chief of Geyserville, near where the fire started. “It’s greatly appreciated.”