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Sonoma County fire crews dig in, spend the night beating flames back from homes

Firefighters were defending homes in the thickly wooded Los Alamos Road canyon Monday morning, where the Shady fire took hold in Sonoma County as embers from a wind-driven blaze in Napa County pushed west.

Crews were prepared to stay through the night to shield homes, though they had marked some losses.

Leading a strike team from Sonoma County agencies, Sebastopol Fire Battalion Chief Jack Piccinini said they were among the first to start defending homes on Los Alamos Road about 8:30 p.m. as the fire burned south from St. Helena Road.

They had been fighting the Glass fire in Napa County and insisted on being sent to Sonoma County when spot fires from that fire quickly started growing into significant threats to Santa Rosa.

“Our first objective was to get up here and make sure people were getting out,” Piccinini said. “There were a lot of people coming down the mountain as we were coming up.”

His crews helped people get animals into trailers and fixed a flat tire for people stymied as they tried to leave a house on a ridge above the road. Piccinini said the fire was on both sides of the road by the time they helped those people get on their way.

They went from house to house in this densely forested community, defending those they could. Some homes were lost to the flames.

As the fire front pushed south and west toward Highway 12 and the more densely settled floor of Sonoma Valley, Piccinini said his strike team would stay on the road overnight to ensure those homes they had saved remained protected from another spot fire or flare up.

“If we leave the structures too early then we come up and find it’s burned,” Piccinini said. “We can’t leave.”

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