Thursday updates: Glass fire grows to 58,880 acres
Wind and heat may be today’s keys for the fight against Glass fire in Sonoma and Napa counties
7:15 PM: Glass fire gains another 2,100 acres Thursday, containment stays at 5%
The Glass fire extended its reach by nearly 2,100 acres over the course of the day Thursday, growing to 58,880 acres by 7 p.m., Cal Fire said. Containment remained at 5%.
The fire had destroyed at least 153 homes in Napa County and an additional 67 in Sonoma County, Cal Fire said.
The number of people sent to fight the fire reached more than 2,500 people by Thursday afternoon, up by 400 compared to the day prior, Cal Fire said.
Fire activity picked up on the eastern zone of the fire Thursday morning, forcing firefighters to protect buildings near the community of Angwin and Old Lawley Toll Road, Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls said during an afternoon briefing posted online.
The Glass fire was more tame on the Sonoma County side of the blaze Thursday morning, though incoming northwest winds threaten to stress fire lines established in the Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, he said.
“If that fire gets across the line that we have established down there, it’s going to create a much larger area that we’re going to have to fall back to to capture the ridges that we need to contain this fire,” Nicholls said. “That’s the largest concern on the west zone.”
6:25 PM: Spare the Air Alert extended through early next week
A Spare the Air Alert for the Bay Area was extended until Tuesday as smoky skies are expected to deteriorate the region’s air quality for several days, the Bay Area Air Quality District said.
Winds were pushing smoke from several wildfires burning in Northern California into the region, where the Glass fire was already sending a blanket of smoke into the air, district officials said Thursday morning.
Indoor and outdoor wood burning is banned during the Spare the Air period, the district said.
4:30 PM: Firefighters work to protect communities as winds threaten to spread flames
As winds begin to bear down on the North Bay mountains, firefighters are working to fortify fire breaks to prevent the out-of-control Glass fire from spreading to more homes.
In Sonoma County, the southern front of the blaze is now firefighters’ top concern, with winds from the north threatening to fan flames toward the communities of Kenwood and Glen Ellen.
North of those areas, firefighters forged a fire line from a high point in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park down to the valley floor, Cal Fire Chief Mark Brunton said in an afternoon briefing.
“With this flow of wind, that is a concern for us,” Brunton said. “I have about a 50-50 percent confidence that line is going to hold, so there’s a potential threat to the community of Kenwood and potentially even Glen Ellen.”
In east Santa Rosa along Highway 12, firefighters continue to mop up burn areas and extinguish hot spots now that flames have mostly receded. Fire crews are also mopping up Calistoga Road in Santa Rosa and have halted flames along the upper portion of the roadway.
In Napa County, the fire has hit the outskirts of the rural community of Angwin, officials said, and fire crews are working to contain the blaze there.
A backfiring operation along the southeastern portion of the blaze was ultimately unsuccessful, and flames are now pushing toward the Oakville community, officials said.
The fire has also forced the closure of both lanes of Highway 29 above Calistoga.
Billy See, a Cal Fire incident commander, said that even though winds are blowing south, there’s still concern the blaze above Calistoga could eventually reach Lake County to the north.
“With the terrain out there, the drainages, the heavy fuel loading, and the dry conditions we’ve had, once that wind subsides, it’s still going to be a major concern because there’s lots of areas that we could have uphill runs toward the Lake County area,” he said.
4:10 PM: Flames intensify near Mount St. Helena
Hi-lo sirens rang out Thursday afternoon along the higher elevations of Highway 29 near Mount St. Helena as the Napa Police and sheriffs deputies from multiple counties moved to evacuate the area.
Winds were intensifying and flames billowed from tree tops along the slopes northeast of Calistoga.
Overhead, helicopters crisscrossed the empty upvalley town, making water runs to the mountain top despite such poor visibility because of the dense smoke settling from the nearby plumes.
The fire had raged by Old Lawley Toll Road since the morning and the roads had become impassable, limiting ground resources that could provide additional support from the valley floor. At least one resident that had flouted evacuation orders was stuck waiting for the road to be cleared and was advised to shelter in place, according to firefighters.