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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.