Kincade fire north of Geyserville tops 10,000 acres, prompts mandatory evacuations
Here are the latest updates on the Kincade fire burning in northeast Sonoma County.
The entire town of Geyserville has been ordered to evacuate, according to an alert from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.
The Kincade fire burning north of town is at 10,000 acres.
Evacuation centers are at the Healdsburg Community Center and Windsor High School.
The Kincade fire has now spread to 10,000 acres, Cal Fire said. The fire still has not been contained.
The Kincade fire has now spread to 7,000 acres, Cal Fire said. The fire still has not been contained, and all existing evacuation orders are still in place.
About 276 people were under the mandatory evacuation order Wednesday evening, said Rohish Lal at Sonoma County's Emergency Operations Center. Lal, a spokesman for the county, said about 1,700 people were under an evacuation warning, meaning that people should be prepared to leave but aren't required to do so. The Sheriff's Office said it has halted issuing new evacuation orders for the moment, Lal said, but officials would continue monitoring the Kincade fire overnight to see if more evacuations would be needed.
The National Weather Service reported a gust of 76 mph occurred near the Kincade fire. The highest wind speeds in the Bay Area have been in the North Bay on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
In an emailed statement, PG&E said the Kincade fire is near the area affected by the power shut-off that the utility initiated Wednesday afternoon. PG&E said it does not have any more information about the fire.
Our 12:55 a.m. story is below:
A wildfire sparked in northeastern Sonoma County along the Lake County line Wednesday night, prompting mandatory evacuations north and east of Geyserville.
The Kincade fire had spread to about 5,000 acres by 12:30 a.m., according to state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg. Cal Fire spokesman Will Powers said the blaze near the Geysers area was burning at a “dangerous rate.” As of 11:30 p.m., there was no reported containment, according to Cal Fire.
The blaze started along Kincade Road near Burned Mountain Road in the area of the Geysers geothermal field. Winds in the area were blowing up to 60 mph from the northwest. Fire crews were forced to call off air attacks because of severe turbulence in the area, according to dispatch reports.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office issued mandatory evacuation orders about midnight for all of Red Winery Road, all of Alexander Mountain Road, Highway 128 from Geysers Road to River Road including the River Rock Casino and all roads off River Road. The office also issued an evacuation warning for northern unincorporated Healdsburg and Geyserville, advising residents to be prepared to evacuate if necessary.
McGuire said one of the biggest challenges firefighters were facing with the blaze was the sustained wind gusts in the area. He added that there has been increased firefighting staffing and resources sent to the area, calling it an “all-hands on deck effort.”
McGuire said there are hundreds of homes in the area, and reminded residents to follow all evacuation orders.
“This fire is burning fast,” McGuire said. “It's dangerous, and winds are not our friends at this moment.”
County Supervisor James Gore reminded residents to be vigilant, adding that the one thing about this incident “that's heartening” is that the county has many resources it didn't have for the catastrophic wildfires two years ago, such as upstaffing for fire departments.
“This is an area that we expect fires,” Gore said. “This is what we've been preparing for.”
Thick smoke filled the air along Hawkeye Ranch Road, where people could be seen fleeing the fire. Some had horses in trailers, one had tubs of cannabis they were trucking down the mountain.
Firefighters said they expected the blaze to cross Geysers Peak and burn over the road toward vineyards on the eastern edge of the Alexander Valley. Just before midnight, the fire began cresting over the top of the ridge on Geysers Road, heading toward Hawk Eye Ranch Road.
There is no immediate threat to Windsor, the Sonoma County Fire District said at 11:25 p.m. An evacuation center was opening at Windsor High School and another was opening at the Healdsburg Community Center.
The fire drew so close to Alert Wildfire's Geyser Peak camera that it switched from its infrared nighttime camera to the full-color daytime view.
Powers said officials hadn't received reports of injuries or structures damage by the blaze, but added that it's “early” on in the incident.
Some areas near the fire were in PG&E's planned outage zone, and were among the 178,000 customers in the North Bay and Sierra foothills who lost power Wednesday afternoon in an initiative the utility said would reduce the risk of its power lines starting destructive wildfires.
Santa Rosa Fire Department said in a Nixle alert that its firefighters have received several reports of fires in the city, but all were determined to be people spotting the Kincade fire up north. There were no other fires burning in Santa Rosa at press time.
You can reach Staff Writer Chantelle Lee at 707-521-5337 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @ChantelleHLee.