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Live updates: Evacuations expanded once again due to 13-4 wildfire

The LNU Lightning Complex

Cal Fire has dubbed five fires in Napa County and two in Sonoma County as the LNU Lightning Complex, a nod to their likely origins during a rare summer lightning storm that swept through the region on Sunday and Monday.

Here’s where each stood at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday:

SONOMA COUNTY

13-4 fire: 500 acres west of Healdsburg. 0% contained.

11-16 fire: 25 acres north of Jenner. 0% contained.

NAPA COUNTY

Hennessey fire: 10,000 acres near Hennessey Ridge Road. 1 structure, two outbuildings destroyed. 0% contained.

Gamble fire: 10,000 acres near Berryessa Knoxville Road west of Brooks. 0% contained.

15-10 fire: 8,000 acres near Putah Creek Bridge and Berryessa Knoxville Road. 0% contained.

Spanish fire: 1,000 acres near Spanish Flat. 0% contained.

Markley fire: 2,500 acres near Monticello Dam. 0% contained.

Source: Cal Fire

Check here for updates on fires burning Tuesday in Sonoma and Napa counties:

8:40 PM: New Sonoma County evacuation orders on wildfire’s northern and western fronts

Authorities have expanded the mandatory evacuation orders in place due to the 13-4 wildfire burning in a rugged swath of coastal mountains in northwestern Sonoma County. The new areas are on the fire’s northern and western fronts.

They include areas east of Sewell Road and King Ridge Road; north of Old Cazadero Road and Austin Creek; west of East Austin Creek and Wal Bridge Ridge; and south of Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road.

Residents in outlying areas have been warned to prepare to evacuate. Those warnings cover residents of areas west of the South Fork Gualala River; north of Fort Ross Road; and south and east of King Ridge Road.

7:15 PM: New Sonoma, Napa County evacuation orders as fires rage into Tuesday evening

Guerneville, Jenner, Monte Rio and other areas north of the Russian River now are included in evacuation orders due to the 13-4 fire that’s burning in northwest Sonoma County.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office has placed the wide area between the Sonoma Coast, the Russian River and Sweetwater Springs and Fort Ross roads under mandatory evacuation orders, affecting thousands of residents.

Also, more Napa County residents have been ordered to join thousands of their neighbors and evacuate due to multiple lightning-caused fires burning across that county.

Evacuation orders now include the area of Wragg Canyon Road — from Highway 128 to the end of the road including the Pleasure Cove facilities — as well as Chiles Pope Valley Road from Lower Chiles Valley Road to Pope Canyon Road, according to Cal Fire.

6:30 PM: Fire in northwest Sonoma County spurs more evacuation orders

The 13-4 fire north of Austin Creek State Recreation Area is prompting additional orders to evacuate from the sparsely populated hills west of Healdsburg on top of the mandates issued earlier this afternoon.

Residents living south of Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road, west of West Dry Creek and Westside roads, north of Sweetwater Springs and McCray Ridge roads and east of Austin Creek itself now are under orders to evacuate, according to Cal Fire.

Smoke from the fire has blanketed much of central Sonoma County, with gray ash falling miles from the fire front on the eastern side of Highway 101.

6 PM: Parts of Mendocino County near Covelo ordered to evacuate due to fire threat

Residents living east of Covelo are being told to evacuate due to an uncontained wildfire that’s burned about 40 acres and already has destroyed one structure, Cal Fire said.

Residents living near Short Creek and Hill road and the Capistran Ranch are being ordered to leave due to the Creek fire, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

Another fire is burning in Mendocino County, a 25-acre blaze in the Potter Valley area, according to Cal Fire.

5:30 PM: Outages remain imminent as grid operator urges conservation

California’s main electric grid operator urged Californians to continue conserving energy after staving off rolling blackouts Monday and so far Tuesday afternoon during the ongoing heatwave.

The California Independent Systems Operator, a nonprofit that oversees the broader electric grid and monitors energy demand and supply statewide, said mid-afternoon it was “seeing consumer conservation make a dent” but that “power outages are still likely for energy shortfalls.”

A PG&E spokeswoman reiterated the importance of reducing electricity usage and noted that it’s the Independent Systems Operator, not PG&E, that orders the rolling blackouts. The utility remained on standby if it was ordered to impose “potential rotating outages,” said spokeswoman Deanna Contreras.

“With the record heatwave expected to continue through Thursday night, PG&E strongly encourages all customers to continue conserving to reduce the overall demand for power,” Contreras said in a statement, adding that the rolling blackouts are different from the planned power outages PG&E occasionally imposes to prevent its equipment from starting wildfires.

An outage in Santa Rosa affecting about 349 customers is under investigation and is not the result of a rolling blackout, Contreras said. A separate, planned outage is affecting about 134 Guerneville customers, she said.

If PG&E is told to turn off power, outages are expected to last 1 to 2 hours, according to the utility’s website, which includes a schedule of estimated shutoff times by outage block. Customers can locate their outage block on their most recent bill and can also look up outage blocks by address online.

The LNU Lightning Complex

Cal Fire has dubbed five fires in Napa County and two in Sonoma County as the LNU Lightning Complex, a nod to their likely origins during a rare summer lightning storm that swept through the region on Sunday and Monday.

Here’s where each stood at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday:

SONOMA COUNTY

13-4 fire: 500 acres west of Healdsburg. 0% contained.

11-16 fire: 25 acres north of Jenner. 0% contained.

NAPA COUNTY

Hennessey fire: 10,000 acres near Hennessey Ridge Road. 1 structure, two outbuildings destroyed. 0% contained.

Gamble fire: 10,000 acres near Berryessa Knoxville Road west of Brooks. 0% contained.

15-10 fire: 8,000 acres near Putah Creek Bridge and Berryessa Knoxville Road. 0% contained.

Spanish fire: 1,000 acres near Spanish Flat. 0% contained.

Markley fire: 2,500 acres near Monticello Dam. 0% contained.

Source: Cal Fire

In an unusual step, the Santa Rosa City Council postponed its Tuesday afternoon meeting in the stated interest of saving power. The council was set to discuss a new wildfire protection plan among other matters and is now scheduled to have that conversation next Tuesday.

5 PM: Napa County evacuation orders expanded as multiple fires grow

Napa County evacuation orders in place have been expanded to include residents living along the western shoreline of Lake Berryessa as the Hennessey, Gamble and 15-10 fires continue to scorch more than 12,000 acres.

Areas under evacuation order due to the immediate threat to life now include everything west of Lake Berryessa along Berryessa Knoxville Road between Highway 128 and East Side Road, according to Cal Fire.

This also includes Pope Canyon Road from Berryessa Knoxville Road to Pope Valley Road, Hardin Road, and the Shadhiliyya Sufi Center, as well as the area from the intersection of Pope Canyon and Snell Valley roads to the Berryessa Estates subdivision, Cal Fire said.

The agency also noted that the area along Steele Canyon Road from Highway 128 to and including the Berryessa Highlands subdivision was subject to evacuation orders.

The evacuation orders combined cover about 5,700 people in 1,900 homes, according to a Napa County spokesperson.

4:10 PM: Evacuation ordered west of Meyers Grade Road in Sonoma County

Residents west of Meyers Grade Road south of Fort Ross and north of Jenner are under formal orders to evacuate due to the threat of a wildfire that started Monday.

The order includes all households between Meyers Grade Road and the coast, south of Fort Ross Road, and north the intersection of Meyers Grade Road and Highway 1.

Residents are to leave now, Cal Fire officials said.

3:55 PM: New evacuation order coming

Sonoma County emergency management personnel are preparing an evacuation order for an area near a wildfire north of Jenner, between Meyers Grade and Highway 1, Emergency Management Director Chris Godley said.

The order is expected shortly amid hot, dry conditions that have exacerbated two wildfires ignited by lightning strikes in the rural hills of Sonoma County a day earlier.

The smaller fire, known as 11-16, named for the Cal Fire battalion involved and the order in which it was found as a lightning storm sparked fires around the region on Monday, was about 15 acres at last check in the Meyers Grade area near the coast, fire officials said.

Cal Fire and Sonoma County emergency officials already have issued evacuation orders in the area of the larger, 13-4 fire in the hills west of Healdsburg, which was 100 acres and growing late Tuesday morning, authorities said.

Godley said his department was trying to determine why an evacuation warning intended for a small group of residents in a rural area in the hills west of Healdsburg was instead distributed to a wide swath of the county’s populace on Tuesday.

A subsequent evacuation order for residents in the area of the 13-4 fire was appropriately targeted, Emergency Management Director Chris Godley said, but the warning issued around noon went out well beyond those in the roughly 20-mile evacuation area, to communities along the Russian River, as well as Santa Rosa and Windsor, at least.

Among those receiving them were neighbors on Anna Drive in Windsor, where residents are still traumatized by an extremely close call with the Kincade fire last year and, before that, the Shiloh Ranch fire, part of the October 2017 firestorm that devastated Sonoma County.

“Everybody on my block is upset,” said Linda McDowell, 71, who started packing her car for what would have been her third evacuation in three years before someone figure out that Austin Creek was nowhere near Windsor and she and her husband didn’t need to worry.

Godley said evacuation warning issued through the Wireless Emergency Alert system, or WEA, should have been targeted.

“We’re looking to it was in fact the technology, the application of the technology, or if it was operator error,” he said. “We don’t have anything definitive right now.”

2:35 PM: Smoke creating unhealthy air

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District warned that smoke from numerous wildfires would create unhealthy air pollution on Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the region.

It issued issued Spare the Air Alerts for Tuesday and Wednesday, banning the burning of wood, manufactured fire logs or any other solid fuel, both indoors and outdoors.

“Multiple wildfires inside and outside of the Bay Area are creating an unhealthy breathing environment,” Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District, said in a statement. “With the added risk of COVID-19 on respiratory health, it’s crucial that we all do our part to reduce air pollution and take precautions to reduce exposure.”

The agency encouraged residents to stay inside with windows and doors closed, if possible, until smoke levels subside. If temperatures are too hot indoors, residents were encouraged to visit an air-cooling center or other building that provides filtered air. Air conditioning units and car vent systems should be set to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside.

Elderly persons, children and individuals with respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to elevated air pollution levels and should take extra precautions to avoid exposure.

2:30 PM: California secures federal aid to fight fires in Napa, Nevada counties

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state has obtained two grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for the ongoing fight against fires burning and Napa and Nevada counties.

The grants will assist local, state and tribal agencies responding to the fires to apply for 75% reimbursement of their eligible fire suppression costs.

The LNU Lightning Complex is comprised of three separate fires in Napa County — the Hennessey, Gamble and 15-10 fires — under a single incident management team. Together, the fires have burned more than 12,200 acres, causing evacuations and threatening homes on the eastern edge of the Napa Valley.

In Nevada County, the Jones Fire has burned 550 acres and is causing several evacuations and school closures in the areas west of Nevada City.

Current weather conditions are causing extreme fire behavior, even in overnight hours, and the weather pattern is expected to extend through the week.

2:10 PM: Few using evacuation center in Napa

Janet Upton, the Napa County public information officer, said only two people spent the night at Crosswalk Community Church in the city of Napa, the county’s sole designated evacuation center as of now. But that was after an initial evacuation of 205 homes in the hills east of the valley. A little after noon Tuesday, Napa County announced an additional order 390 homes in the Berryessa Estates neighborhood.

“We have been preparing for some time what we call ‘an incident within an incident,’” Upton said, referring to outbreak of fires during the coronavirus pandemic. “We know, as does Sonoma County, the wildfire capacity in this region. That doesn’t make the incident any less dynamic. But we are prepared to act on Plans A, B and C.”

Upton said the county has reduced capacity at Crosswalk to 60, a fraction of what it housed during the 2017 Atlas fire, because of the need for social distancing.

1:30 PM: Evacuation mandatory north of Austin Creek State Recreation Area

(County of Sonoma)
(County of Sonoma)

Cal Fire says evacuation is now mandatory for back-country areas in the hills north of the Austin Creek State Recreation Area due to a lightning-sparked wildfire known as the 13-4 fire.

Sonoma County emergency officials have not yet issued the order, but are preparing to, a spokesman confirmed.

Residents of the area north of the Austin Creek recreational area, east of The Cedars Gateway Ecological Preserve off King Ridge Road, south of Stewarts Point-Skaggs Spring Road and west of the end of Mill Creek Road need to pack up essentials and leave the area. More details will be forthcoming.

The blaze, estimated at 75 acres at last check, is in a largely unpopulated area but is burning in a southerly direction in rugged terrain, Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls said.

But “there’s not a lot of road networks out of there,” Nicholls said, and emergency officials want to ensure residents have plenty of time to get out, he said.

The 13-4 fire is burning in an area near Gray Creek and the end of Mill Creek Road, west of Healdsburg and north of the Austin Creek recreational area.

It is one of at least two fires still burning in Sonoma County after a lightning storm ignited fires around the region on Monday.

The other is a 15-acre fire near Meyers Grade, on the coast, he said, but “13-4 has the potential to become a major fire,” Nicholls said.

1 PM: Napa County fires grow to more than 12,200 acres

Three fires burning on the eastern rim of the Napa Valley have now consumed more than 12,200 acres and were burning out of control Tuesday, Cal Fire reported.

The largest is the Gamble fire, which by 7 a.m. had burned 5,000 acres near Berryessa Knoxville Road, west of Brooks.

The 15-10 fire, located near Berryessa Knoxville Road and Putah Creek Bridge, had burned 4,500 acres.

The Hennessey fire, near Hennessey Ridge Road, had burned 2,700 acres. Flames destroyed one structure and two buildings. Another 205 structures are threatened.

None of the fires had any containment. Cal Fire reported 460 firefighters were battling the blazes, but air support had been stretched thin by multiple fires burning throughout the Bay Area.

The fires broke out at 6:40 a.m. Monday during a lightning storm that swept through the North Bay.

This map shows where the Gamble fire near Lake Berryessa in Napa County started.

12:30 PM: Evacuation warning issued in Sonoma County

Emergency officials have issued an evacuation warning for a rural area of west Sonoma County in the hills between Healdsburg and Stewarts Points, due to a wildfire that’s been burning since Monday.

The lightning-caused fire had burned about 75 acres in rugged hills north of the Austin Creek State Recreation Area, though little information was immediately available.

Sonoma County Emergency Management Director Chris Godley said a duty officer had been dispatched to the scene, where Cal Fire officials were busy assessing the situation.

The affected area covers about 20 square miles of back country located north of the Austin Creek recreational area, east of The Cedars Gateway Ecological Preserve off King Ridge Road, south of Stewarts Point-Skaggs Spring Road and west of the end of Mill Creek Road.

“There’s not a lot of people living up there, but the potential is always that it can spread, so that’s why we issued the evacuation warning,” county spokesman Paull Gullixson said.

It is still a warning, not an order.

“It means two things,” Godley said. “Be prepared to leave, but if you feel like you would be challenged in evacuating, like you need assistance or you need additional time, now is the time to leave.”

The Austin Creek subdivision in Santa Rosa is not threated by the fire nor subject to the evacuation warning, the Santa Rosa Fire Department said. There are no evacuations in Santa Rosa.

This map shows where the 13-4 fire in west Sonoma County began.

8:56 AM: Hennessey fire in Napa County grows to 2,700 acres

The Hennessey fire had burned 2,700 acres of vegetation in Napa County and it remains out of control as of Tuesday morning.

Evacuation orders remained in effect for roads near the fire off Hennessey Ridge Road and Highway 128 and along Chiles Pope Valley Road and Lower Chiles Valley Road.

Evacuation warnings had been issued for areas around Highway 128 at Silverado Trail to Chiles Pope Valley Road, Highway 128 at Lower Chiles Valley Road to Turtle Rock.

An evacuation center was operating at the Crosswalk Community Church, 2590 First Street in Napa.

Roads closed included Chiles Pope Valley Road, Sage Canyon Road and Highway 128.

The fire threatens 205 structures, Cal Fire spokesman Tyree Zander said. One structure and two outbuildings have been destroyed.

Firefighting resources were stretched thin, as crews were sent to 59 other fires Monday.

Staff Writer Phil Barber contributed to this story. You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249‬ or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MaryCallahanB. You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @loriacarter.

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