Northern California fire deaths now 23; 5 arrested for suspected looting in Sonoma County

Here is the latest news on the fire in and around Sonoma County and the North Coast:

10 p.m.

A MANDATORY EVACUATION order remains in place for residents of Highway 128 east of Geyserville, at the intersection of Road 93; and from Highway 128 south from River Road to Geysers Road; all of Geysers Road from Highway 128 to Calpine; River Rock Casino. The town of Geyserville is now under an advisory evacuation.

The Pocket fire east of Geyserville continues to actively burn to the north, east and west.

The only town under a mandatory evacuation at this time is Calistoga, in Napa County.

The Tubbs fire burning in Sonoma and Napa counties remains a threat to more than 29,000 homes, fire authorities said. Most are in Santa Rosa.

The blaze has destroyed 576 structures and burned 31,363 acres, an increase of about 3,000 acres since Tuesday. It was 10 percent contained.

The fire is burning along the northern and eastern perimeters, moving into a drainage to the north of Calistoga.

6:20 p.m.

A MANDATORY EVACUATION has been ordered for Geyserville residents, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said. The Pocket fire, which has burned 4,000 acres and is not contained, threatens the town’s more than 800 residents.

The evacuation order extends from Highway 128 east to River Rock Casino and south on the highway to Geysers Road up to The Geysers, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The fire jumped containment lines above Geyserville and was moving south toward Moody Lane and Highway 128, Geyserville Fire reported on Facebook about 3 p.m.

5:20 p.m.

A large plume of smoke over southeast Santa Rosa late Wednesday afternoon was part of a firing operation, to slow the spread of a fire threatening Bennett Valley, said Bennett Valley Battalion Chief Darren DeCarli.

With the fire slowly advancing toward Annadel Heights and Bennett Valley, firefighters Wednesday used bulldozers to cut 30-foot-wide swath through the brush and curving around homes. The line stretched some miles, from Lake Ilsanjo high up in Annadel to close to the Bennett Valley fire house.

After firefighters lit it, “favorable winds” carried it into the park, burning off grasses, weeds and brush and creating a strong line against the advancing fire.

The large backfiring operation caught some fire officials by surprise as they hadn’t been told it was coming.

5:05 p.m.

Just before 5 p.m. a massive plume of smoke rose over southeast Santa Rosa, appearing to be on Bennett Peak on the edge of Trione-Annadel State Park.

A large area of Annadel’s 5,000 acres already has burned from the Nun fire since Sunday but the plume indicated either a large run by the fire or new fire activity.

Fire officials were rushing to the smoke to determine the situation.

4:50 p.m.

Three more deaths have been confirmed from the Redwood Valley fire in Mendocino County, raises the death toll from the North Bay blazes to 23, 13 of those from Sonoma County.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman had indicated the number was expected to rise.

The Redwood Valley fire stretches into Potter Valley and by late afternoon there were mandatory evacuations in Potter Valley, said sheriff’s Capt. Greg Van Patten.

4:35 p.m.

The 11 North Coast fires burning across five separate counties

3:55 p.m.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has issued an ADVISORY EVACUATION notice for the Lake Pillsbury Basin area because of the Redwood/Potter fires in Mendocino County.

Residents should only use Elk Mountain Road while leaving the area.

An advisory evacuation is not mandated, but strongly recommended.

3:15 p.m.

A Cal Fire mandatory evacuation order has been issued for the city of Calistoga. All residents must evacuate as the Tubbs fire threatens the city of 5,000.

3:04 p.m.

The Sonoma County Sheriff has issued an ADVISORY EVACUATION for most of Boyes Hot Springs and the north side of Sonoma.

This area includes Arnold Drive from Madrone Road, south to Petaluma Avenue and east to East Napa Street and Lovall Valley Road.

Residents are advised to pack necessary belongings, medications, pets, personal items, cellphones, chargers, important papers and anything else deemed necessary. The best route out of town is south towards Petaluma.

Although not an official evacuation shelter, the Sonoma Raceway is offering space to meet temporary immediate needs of evacuees.

3:03 p.m.

The Pocket Fire jumped containment lines north of Geyserville and is moving south toward Moody Lane and Highway 128, Geyserville Fire reported on Twitter just before 3 p.m.

The fire has burned roughly 1,800 acres southeast of Cloverdale since Monday morning and has not been contained, according to Cal Fire reports.

2:22 p.m.

At least five people in Sonoma County have been arrested for suspected looting since fires began Sunday night, Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said.

Two arrests were made by Santa Rosa police, according to a spokeswoman. There have been 67 calls reporting looting since the fires began early Monday morning, said spokeswoman Adriane Mertens.

The three arrests by sheriff’s deputies Monday and Tuesday were for outstanding warrants and other violations. Giordano said the arrests were not for looting, but investigations connected the suspects, who were arrested on outstanding warrants and violations.

The Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said earlier this week any looters apprehended “will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

2 p.m.

A large area of Agua Caliente now is included in VOLUNTARY EVACUATION orders due to encroaching fire.

Officials want residents to be able to leave now or be ready to leave in case evacuation becomes mandatory.

The area where residents are being told they could evacuate includes Agua Caliente particularly Park Avenue and Cavedale, Moon Mountain, Kearner, La Placita, Richards, Theordore, Hooker, Oak Tree, London and East Agua Caliente Roads.

1:56 p.m.

ADVISORY EVACUATION notices have been issued for specific areas of Healdsburg and Windsor Wednesday as officials want residents to prepare to evacuate as winds increase and the threat of a nearby fire remains.

A MANDATORY EVACUATION includes Chalk Hill Road between Santa Rosa and Windsor.

Officials are concerned about shifts and gusts, mainly from a finger of the Tubbs fire currently burning in the hills of northern Santa Rosa.

For Healdsburg, the advisory was issued for Fitch Mountain east of the golf course and Revel Road, Rivers Bend, Bailache Avenue from Rio Lindo to Healdsburg Avenue and all spur roads.

In Windsor the advisory order covered a large, not heavily populated area near Foothill Regional Park, and including Arata Lane, to Highway 101 north to the Russian River, then following the east side of the river up to Bailache Avenue, toward Fitch Mountain.

The strategy for evacuating Chalk Hill is officials don’t want cars trying to leave - if necessary - while fire engines are heading in.

Further details for the advisory evacuation perimeters are available on the town of Windsor online home page here.

Windsor has activated its emergency operations center due to a red flag warning in the area. EOC spokesman and former fire chief Ron Collier said it’s a precautionary move.

1:45 p.m.

Sonoma State University recommends all students should leave campus as soon as possible.

1:33 p.m.

The evacuation shelter previously located at Grace Church in Kelseyville has been relocated to the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 1111 Park Way in Lakeport.

1:30 p.m.

The Flamingo Hotel near Fourth Street and Farmers Lane has been closed by fire officials since Monday morning. But some online travel sites still allowed people to make reservations, including a woman who said she had lost her home and Tuesday booked a room over the internet.

Standing outside the entrance, front office manager Don Hamilton apologized to the woman and said the hotel has repeatedly told travel sites that they are closed by a mandatory evacuation order.

Once the order is lifted, the hotel plans to open as soon as possible, he said.

“We are crossing our fingers and hoping,” Hamilton said.

1:15 p.m.

There are 380 reports of missing people in Sonoma County. The number, lower than the more than 500 previously reported by officials, reflects duplicate accounts of missing people, Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said at a 1 p.m. press conference.

He said 530 people had been unaccounted for but 150 people had been located by sheriff’s deputies since Sunday night.

12:45 p.m.

Santa Rosa CityBus will operate on a Saturday schedule through the end of the week, with free service.

The following detours will continue until further notice:

Route 1: Outbound from Transit Mall, the bus will turn left on Steele Lane to get to Coddingtown Mall, with no service to Bicentennial. The bus will return the same way.

Route 10: Bus will turn around at Coffey and Bluebell and return to Coddingtown (no northern loop service).

Route 8: Buses cannot serve all of Bennett Valley due to evacuation. Buses will travel south on Summerfield, turn right onto Hoen Avenue, right onto Yulupa Avenue to return inbound.

Because CityBus is operating on a Saturday service schedule, the following routes are not operating:

Route 2 (only 2B is operating)

Route 4B (only 4 is operating)

Route 7

Route 19

12:33 p.m.

The teens at the Sonoma County juvenile detention center were evacuated Monday to Solano County due to an encroaching fire, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday.

Forty teens and nine employees were moved Monday at 5:30 a.m.

Teens arrested subsequently are being taken to Marin County’s juvenile incarceration facility.

The Sonoma County center is near Oakmont, off Highway 12.

12:30 p.m.

Sonoma State University has canceled all classes and university business until Monday, Oct. 16.

12:10 p.m.

The number deaths caused by fires burning in Northern California since Sunday has increased to 21, said Cal Fire spokesman Jonathan Cox.

11:55 a.m.

While the Fountaingrove fire did not consume and destroy Santa Rosa Community Health’s Vista Family Health Center on Round Barn Circle, it did force its closure from smoke and water damage.

Naomi Fuchs, SRHC’s CEO, said all Vista staff were transferred to the health center’s other clinic sites which are open to anyone in the local community for nonemergency care.

These sites include the Lombardi Campus, 751 Lombardi Court; Brookwood Health Center, 983 N. Dutton Ave.; and the Pediatric Campus, 711 Stony Point Road. More information about facilities is available at

Fuchs said those seeking medical care should call 707 303-3600 first, as many issues can be dealt with over the phone.

Help is available for those who are having breathing problems or need attention for chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension. Help with medications is available at SRCH’s Lombardi pharmacy.

Obstetrics care is also available at all sites, she said, and the dental clinic on 1110 N. Duton Ave. is open.

SRCH serves some 50,000 residents in the Santa Rosa area. At least 20 SRCH staff lost homes, she said.

11:50 a.m.

Wind remains the main concern, as already taxed firefighters enter a third day without containment on multiple fires threatening communities throughout Sonoma and Napa counties.

Santa Rosa Battalion Chief Mark Basque said they’re trying to get crews working without rest since Sunday time to shower and sleep.

Wednesday, areas of significant concern included the northwest section of the Fire, from Shiloh ridge to Chalk Hill Road and Knights Valley.

“There are a ton of houses out there,” Basque said.

Several firefighters had lost homes and Basque said the Pocket fire was threatening his home outside Healdsburg.

“This is an unprecedented event,” Basque said.

11:35 a.m.

Flames overnight destroyed the hillside home of Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin on Crestridge Place, one of at least two homes burned in Oakmont. Wednesday morning, the debris from her one-story, three bedroom house still smoldered, the smoke obscuring the hills of Trione-Annadel State Park.

Gorin said State Sen. Mike McGuire, who was touring in the area, helped retrieve items from her home when it first began burning Tuesday night.

“I have a lot of constituents who are in a lot of pain,” said Gorin. “Like so many other people, I will be navigating the recovery process, insurance, claims.”

11:32 a.m.

Law enforcement has closed Highway 12 to traffic from Melita Road all the way to Agua Caliente Road near Sonoma.

11:30 a.m.

Fire officials Wednesday were monitoring a flaming finger of the Tubbs fire burning in the hills north of Santa Rosa, watching for signs that winds later could push flames toward sections of northeast Windsor and southern Healdsburg.

Advisory evacuations are possible for specific areas of the towns, but only if the winds pose a risk, said Windsor Fire Chief Jack Piccinini.

Specifically, officials are watching fire burning above the Mark West Lodge and wind shifts.

“The fear is that if that little finger does catch the wind and does kind of start to burn in a northeasterly direction or easterly direction” it could pose a threat, he said. “We want people to be ready to go.”

The advisory would be for residents near Foothills Regional Park, including Arata Lane, and east of Healdsburg in the area of Bailache Avenue and Fitch Mountain, northeast Windsor.

Piccinini was concerned that evacuation notices be specific, and asked residents to check official notices about the streets listed - if and when a warning is issued.

Late Tuesday afternoon the Sheriff’s Office issued several evacuation notices for numerous areas including near the Bennett Valley Golf Course. The Bennett Valley evacuation notice was for areas east of Summerfield Road and south of Parktrail Drive, said Paul Lowenthal, spokesman for the Santa Rosa-area fire, who was in the area helping make the decision.

“We were evaluating the fire. Based on the conditions and the concerns we decided to evacuate from Parktrail all the way to the end of Summerfield to the golf course and east of Summerfield,” Lowenthal said.

Lowenthal drove subdivisions along Yulupa Avenue and saw hundreds of people packing up and leaving.

Information briefly posted on The Press Democrat included stated an area of Montgomery Village was included in the evacuation but that was removed after it was determined people east of the shopping area were leaving voluntarily.

11:20 a.m.

An emergency shelter will remain open at Analy High School, Sebastopol officials said.

Police Chief Jeff Weaver initially told evacuees Tuesday the community-run shelter would shut down by lunchtime today, and people would be transferred to the Red Cross shelter at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building.

But because of increased winds expected tonight, officials decided this morning to keep the shelter at 6950 Analy Ave. open.

11:15 a.m.

The Santa Rosa VA Clinic will be closed through Friday, Oct. 13.

No VA shuttles will run between the San Francisco VA Medical Center and VA clinics north of the Golden Gate Bridge on Wednesday or Thursday.

The Clearlake, Ukiah and Eureka VA clinics are open for walk-ins. Staff will be calling veterans with appointments to reschedule.

11:11 a.m.

The Air National Guard will be using a drone Wednesday over the northern area of Santa Rosa to help map fire damage, the City of Santa Rosa reported.

10:55 a.m.

MANDATORY EVACUATIONS have been issued for all of Glen Ellen in response to the 70,00-acre Southern LNU Complex fire, which includes six separate fires burning in Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties.

Nearly 180 structures have been destroyed and another 5,000 are threatened.

Other MANDATORY EVACUATIONS have been listed for roads branching off Highway 12 approaching the Springs area and Sonoma, including Enterprise Road, Wall Road, Cavedale Road, and Arnold Drive between Madrone Road and Glen Ellen.

10:45 a.m.

Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said Wednesday that in the wake of overnight evacuation orders in the county, the number of reports of missing people rose to 540.

He said 30 deputies are working to locate missing people. None of the 11 fatalities reported to date in Sonoma County were found during searches for missing people, Giordano said. They were found during other law enforcement and rescue operations, he said.

10:05 a.m.

Petaluma-area emergency shelters are nearing capacity while the Petaluma Fairground shelter has reached capacity, according to Petaluma police.

Police have asked residents to sign up for alerts on the free Nixle network. Subscribe by texting your zip code to 888777.

The following Petaluma shelters have space available:

Petaluma Vets Building, 1094 Petaluma Blvd. South

Calvary Chapel, 1955 South McDowell Blvd.

New Life Christian Church, 1315 Rand Ave.

Shelters are open and available in Marin County.

9:30 a.m.

In Oakmont Wednesday morning there was a preliminary report of two or three homes that burned near the top of the residential area, but that has not been confirmed, said Paul Lowenthal, a spokesman for the Santa Rosa-area fire.

One of the day’s highest priorities was focused on potential trouble inside the fire’s perimeter.

“They made it very clear to all the strike teams working around the homes and the neighborhoods burned in that first 24 hours to really get in there and put out any hot spots, make sure it’s all out,” Lowenthal said.

“With the concern with the winds coming up again, the last thing we need to see are those areas flaring up and continuing to spread.

There are many homes and islands of undamaged buildings within the burn area. With intense heat lurking from charred remains, some wind and dry air could create new fires within the fire zones, he said.

That has been a major factor in the inability to contain the fire. Fire officials can’t claim stretches of containment if hot spots remain inside that area.

“Until we are comfortable, until we know the edge of the fire perimeter is cold, mopped up, tested by a wind” it can’t be called contained, Lowenthal said. “We’re not just trying to put a ring of containment around one perfect fire. We’re trying to put multiple rings around all kinds of spot fires.”

9:15 a.m.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has canceled meetings scheduled for Oct. 16 for its public health, safety and resources committee and its general government committee.

8:45 a.m.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has issued an ADVISORY EVACUATION notice for residents in the Middletown area.

An evacuation advisory is not a mandatory evacuation but it is strongly recommended.

Residents are advised to gather their medications, pets and important papers, and be prepared to leave the area with little notice.

8:20 a.m.

In Mendocino County, a fire burning in Redwood and Potter valleys now is estimated at 29,500 acres and firefighters have contained 5 percent of it, according to Cal Fire officials early Wednesday.

Three people have died in the Mendocino Lake Complex fire and that count, including children, was expected to increase as firefighters and investigators continue combing through the fire’s ruin.

In Lake County, a fire burning near Clearlake is at 2,500 acres and 40 percent contained. Officials have lifted a mandatory evacuation order for parts of Clearlake.

Seven thousand people have been evacuated from the fires. New statistics released early Wednesday included 250 homes burned and 800 buildings, including homes, still threatened by the fires.

Fire officials have set Nov. 1 for having the two fires fully contained.

Wednesday, firefighters were anticipating expected gusty winds later in the day, but were hoping to strengthen firelines and gather more detailed information about structures lost.

Evacuation orders remained for many in the path of both fires. Evacuation advisory notices also have been issued for both fire areas. Check the Cal Fire incident page online for details here.

7:15 a.m.

Homes burned in Oakmont Tuesday night but numbers and locations weren’t available early Wednesday from fire officials.

“We do have information, we do have some structures that have been destroyed in Oakmont,” said Paul Lowenthal, a spokesman for the Santa Rosa-area fire.

Lowenthal said he understood the homes lost were in the higher elevations of the senior community. Oakmont, east of Santa Rosa, abuts Trione-Annadel State Park, where an arm of the Nun’s fire has been burning since Monday.

Lowenthal, at the fire’s base camp at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, noted the smoke had cleared in central Santa Rosa. “The sky is clear, the moon is clearly visible but I can see the orange haze over that side of town,” he said, referring to the view east toward Oakmont.

Early Wednesday, the fires calmed with the cooler temperatures and lack of wind. But winds were expected to increase later in the day. Gusts have been predicted to reach more than 40 mph.

“The concerns now are the transition from the cold still morning to the heat of the day and where the winds are going to take us,” Lowenthal said.

Officials during the night also increased the number of fatalities to 17 from the North Coast-area fires, including Yuba County, with 11 from the Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa.

At the other end of the Tubbs fire, closer to where it started, flames early Wednesday were threatening the greater Calistoga area.

The north end of Calistoga was evacuated overnight and the south end of town could also be evacuated, depending on the wind direction, Lowenthal said.

7 a.m.

An undetermined number of houses in Oakmont were destroyed overnight.

Mandatory evacuation orders now include parts of the Sonoma Valley near Agua Caliente outside of Sonoma, plus portions of Geyserville.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office has scheduled a news conference for 9 a.m. for more updates.

6 a.m.

There is a MANDATORY EVACUATION order for parts of Calistoga.

Cal Fire has ordered the evacuations of all residents north of Grant Street.

All remaining areas of Calistoga are under an advisory alert.

12:45 a.m., Oct. 11


Parts of the Sonoma Valley are now under MANDATORY EVACUATION:

Residents of Moon Mountain Road, Mission Way, London Way, Martin Road, Cavedale Road and Adobe Way along Highway 12 approaching Agua Caliente must evacuate.

Highway 12 was closed between Madrone and Melita roads.

The Sheriff’s Office recommends Agua Caliente residents between Madrone Road and Agua Caliente Road have a bag packed and be ready to evacuate, if needed.

10:37 p.m., Oct. 10


The following areas are now under MANDATORY EVACUATION:

On Highway 128, every residence between 1922 Hwy 128 and the Russian River, and Nutter Road, Sellers Road, River Road, Fay Ranch Road, Ridge Oaks Road, Fox Ridge Road, Vineyard Road, Woodridge Road, Deerpath Drive, Ram Hill Road, Rockmouth Road, Colony Road and Lakewood Lane.

The following areas are UNDER ADVISORY and should consider readying for evacuation, if needed: downtown Geyserville, Palomino Road, Asti Ridge Road and Highland Ranch Road.

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