Here’s a quick take on the latest news about the active fires in Sonoma County, plus news from Mendocino, Lake and other North Bay counties.
A large wildland blaze burning in Mendocino County Friday night remained at 34,000 acres but containment had increased to 20 percent, according to Cal Fire.
The fire, spread from Redwood to Potter valley, continued to burn northward, toward Pine Mountain, Tomki, Foster Mountain and the Van Arsdale reservoir.
Cal Fire officials also reported there were 2,230 people working on that fire as well as the Sulphur fire in Clearlake – the majority on the Mendocino County fire.
For the two fires, 314 homes were destroyed, two businesses damaged and 1,000 buildings remain threatened. Lake County sheriff’s Lt. Corey Paulich said at least 160 structures were destroyed in the fire in Clearlake, which burned inside and outside the city limits up to Clear Lake.
Sulphur fire-area residents were allowed to return home Friday afternoon but officials warned residents of ongoing repairs and work. The fire was considered 60 percent contained.
Total tallies for the fires burning in Sonoma County and stretching into neighboring counties Friday night totaled 92,370 acres with 2,900 people assigned, many coming from out‑of‑state.
Throughout the region, the fires still threaten 33,943 buildings, destroyed 2017 — mainly homes — and damaged 60 structures, according to a Cal Fire summary.
Nineteen people have died in the Tubbs fire.
Those numbers are for the Tubbs, Pocket and Nuns fires.
Fires continued to blacken thousands of acres throughout the region Friday as firefighters battled to hold them in check ahead of a predicted windy night that as of 8:30 p.m. remained fairly calm, at least in the valleys.
The Tubbs fire, stretching from Mount St. Helena in Lake County well into Santa Rosa grew by 550 acres, and now is at 35,270 acres.
Much of the expansion was in Lake County on the mountain.
But firefighters also increased the containment circle to 44 percent, up from 25 percent Friday morning.
In northern Sonoma County the Pocket fire took off in two directions Friday and grew by 1,000 acres and remained at five percent containment.
To the east, the Nuns fire, which now is a combination of four blazes stretching from Napa County to the Mayacama range into Napa County and south to Bennett Valley, was at 46,000 acres by day’s end, an increase of about 2,500 acres. Progress on containment lines increased to 10 percent.
A new brush fire started Friday evening off Pythian Road and Highway 12 near Oakmont just before 4 p.m. but that had been contained.
In Bennett Valley Friday no new issues arose and firefighters patrolled the edges of the fire in the upper hillsides and continued to work on containment lines, said Bennett Valley Battalion Chief Darrin DeCarli. “Hopefully the work we’ve done in the last 2-3 days continues to pay off,” he said.
In another stretch of that fire, crews conducted backfiring operations in the Trione-Annadel State Park, burning as much as 200 acres to try to halt the fire’s spread in there. The park is heavily used by hikers, and bike and horse riders and a substantial amount of it has burned, according to maps of the fire.
In the wake of Sonoma County fires, 235 people remain unaccounted for, Sheriff Rob Giordano said Friday evening at a press conference.
There have been 1,485 reports of missing people in Sonoma County; of those 1,250 have been located and are safe, Giordano said.
The Santa Rosa Fire Department and the Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services office were working Friday creating a team to survey facilities that store hazardous waste, Santa Rosa Fire Department’s Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal said.
Inspections of such facilities, such as gas stations, will start Saturday morning in Santa Rosa and other areas touched by the Tubbs fire, he said.
“It’s evaluating those facilities and figuring out what the needs are and what clean up is needed and which facilities are closed down,” he said.
It’s not immediately clear how many facilities will require inspections or how long the effort will be ongoing.
As the death toll from the North Bay fires rose to 35 with the discovery of remains of a 19th body found in Santa Rosa, the Tubbs fire continued to chew up hundreds of acres in Lake County Friday afternoon as it wrapped around Mount St. Helena, according to a Lake County Cal Fire official monitoring both.
“We’re seeing a lot of activity from the Pocket and the Tubbs fires, coming across Mount St. Helena,” said Greg Bertelli, Cal Fire division chief in Lake County.
Air tankers were busy in the area Friday afternoon, trying to slow the blaze as it marched up the iconic peak separating Lake and Napa counties.
“It’s ugly, ugly country,” said Bertelli, referring to the grade, narrow drainages, brush and outcroppings having to be maneuvered by dozers, firefighters, and, where possible, fire engines geared to handle rough country.
The Tubbs fire wasn’t closing in on Middletown but the town remained under advisory evacuation orders. Firefighters were using historic fire roads and breaks they’ve used in years past as the fire moved.
The Tubbs fire is more than 35,000 acres and has caused massive destruction through portions of residential and commercial Santa Rosa.
Smoke from the Pocket fire was blowing toward Lake County, indicating the northwest wind direction. But the fire was spreading in two directions, Bertelli said, and leading to a new advisory evacuation notice for northern Healdsburg in anticipation of the night’s winds. Specific areas included in the advisory were Parkland Farms, east of Healdsburg Avenue and north of Paul Wittke Drive and Poppy Hill Drive. Officials emphasized that as of Friday afternoon the fire wasn’t threatening Healdsburg but wanted residents to be ready.
In the midst of firefighting and disaster in Mendocino County’s Redwood Valley, a 4.0-magnitude earthquake shook the area Friday afternoon, shaking the already rattled region.
The 4:10 p.m. quake struck near Redwood Valley and was felt in a wide area including greater Ukiah.
“It was a shaker,” said Ukiah Valley fire Capt. Pete Bushy, who felt it at his station in Ukiah but said firefighters in northern Ukiah described a jolt that felt like a vehicle had backed up into their building.
The City of Santa Rosa has reduced mandatory evacuation orders for several areas to ADVISORY EVACUATION.
The advisory evacuations are for:
Areas east of Fulton Road from Francisco Avenue to Guerneville Road, and east to Highway 101; and
Areas east of Highway 101 from Steele Lane/Chanate Road to Calistoga Road except streets leading up to the Fountaingrove area.
There will still be smoke in the respective areas as firefighters continue firefighting operations.
A Sonoma Valley fire update will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at Prestwood Elementary School, 343 E. MacArthur St., Sonoma.
Cal Fire will update the status of fires in the area and city officials will discuss resources, services, phone and internet service.
There will be an opportunity to ask questions.
Two more fatalities were reported Friday from the Atlas fire in Napa County that already had claimed a couple whose deaths were reported earlier this week.
The remains of retired Dr. George Chaney, 89, and Edward Stone, 79, were recovered from their Atlas Peak Road home on Thursday during a targeted search resulting from concerns about their whereabouts, Napa County officials said.
Chaney and Stone lived in the 2300 block of Atlas Peak Road, authorities said.
Two other Atlas Peak Road residents, Charles Rippey, 100, and his wife of 75 years, Sara Rippey, 98, also died in the fire.
The City of Healdsburg has issued an ADVISORY EVACUATION for the northern area of the city.
The evacuation includes the Parkland Farms neighborhoods, areas east of Healdsburg Avenue and north of Paul Wittke and Poppy Hill drives.
City officials stressed the Pocket fire is not threatening Healdsburg at this time.
An advisory evacuation means pack a bag that includes medications and IDs, and round up your pets.
A MANDATORY EVACUATION order has been issued for Geyserville north of Highway 128 from Geysers Road to Chalk Hill Road.
The Pocket fire threatening Geyserville has burned nearly 10,000 acres and is 5 percent contained.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports county residents are being scammed by phone calls claiming to be able to provide financial aid to fire victims.
During these calls, personal information such as social security numbers has been sought for the purpose of identity theft.
Never provide personal information to anyone over the phone.
Cal Fire crews are conducting a back fire operation on the Nuns fire today in the Trione-Annadel State Park area near Lake Ilsanjo, according to Santa Rosa police.
The back fire will cause a large plume of smoke.
Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey said today the Tubbs fire has destroyed nearly 5 percent of Santa Rosa’s housing stock, caused at least $1.2 billion in damage and forced more than 50,000 residents to evacuate.
The Sonoma Resource Conservation District is offering to help evacuees from the fires get access to their crops to harvest or livestock to feed.
The district said it is working with the county Office of Emergency Services.
For crops, call 707-565-2371.
For livestock, call the University of California Cooperative Extension at 707-565-2305.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will open a relief center Saturday morning on the first floor of The Press Democrat building in downtown Santa Rosa.
The 9 a.m. opening at 427 Mendocino Ave. will provide victims of North Coast fires a one-stop shop for obtaining personal documents, filing insurance claims, obtaining a driver’s license and other items.
Representatives of local, county, state and federal governments will be available beginning at 9 a.m.
Smoke from the North Bay fires blanketed the San Francisco Bay Area Friday, creating the dirtiest air ever recorded by the region’s air monitoring board. Air quality in the area is comparable to conditions in Beijing, China, notorious for its foul air, said Kristine Roselius, spokeswoman for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
In Sebastopol, where the air district’s only Sonoma County monitor is located, air quality jumped from good before dawn Friday to unhealthy at noon.
“That’s a pretty big jump,” Roselius said.
The wildfire smoke forms a plume covering the entire Bay Area and flowing over the ocean, as well.
Napa recorded very unhealthy air from midnight through early afternoon Friday.
With the Sulphur fire now 55 percent contained, the MANDATORY EVACUATION order for the fire has been lifted and residents are being allowed to return home, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Access to all areas west of Mendocino Avenue will be via North Road.
A 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. curfew remains in effect in areas without power.
The 18th death of a Sonoma County resident was announced by fire officials. They expect the death toll from the fires in Northern California, now at 32, to rise.
Residents of the Redwood Valley community south of the following locations are being allowed to return home:
West Road south of and including Laughlin Way
Laughlin Way south of Bakers Creek
East Road south of Held Road
Road I to Colony Drive (excluding Madrone Lane)
East of Highway 101
West of Ricetti Lane at the entrance to Black Bart Trail
Residents returning to these areas should use extreme caution.
The federal government has launched its Individual Assistance Program to fire victims in Napa and Sonoma counties, said FEMA Regional Administrator Bob Fenton at a press conference in Sacramento.
Assistance includes money for temporary housing, medical, dental and funeral expenses as well as loans and grants to rebuild,Fenton said.
To apply go to www.disasterassistance.gov.
Residents attempting to get into a northeastern Santa Rosa neighborhood under evacuation Friday found CHP officers at strategic points blocking access.
“As of today nobody can get in,” said CHP Officer Jon Sloat, who was stationed at Wallace and Deer Trail roads. Wallace Road, north of Brush Creek Road, leads to Riebli and Mark West Springs roads. The rural residential area was mostly destroyed late Sunday night but some houses remain.
Thursday residents were able to get back to their homes, ignoring an evacuation notice. On Friday, efforts were being made to keep people out due to “an army of PG&E trucks here trying to get power back. And a couple of spot fires have tossed up,” Sloat said. “We’re getting a few frustrated people but we’re trying to expedite getting this place safe.”
Sloat said the message was the same at evacuated areas throughout the area. San Francisco police officers were monitoring the north end of Larkfield. Novato officers were in Coffey Park and CHP, Santa Rosa and other law enforcement officers were spread throughout the region, watching for looters and keeping residents away from numerous evacuated areas.
The Santa Rosa VA Clinic will remain closed through Friday. A decision about opening Monday, Oct. 16 has not been made.
Clearlake, Ukiah and Eureka VA clinics are open and fully operational.
VA shuttles will not travel Friday between the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the VA clinics north of the Golden Gate Bridge. A decision about shuttle operation decisions for Monday, Oct. 16 has not been made.
Veterans unable to reach a clinic or who have fire-related symptoms can call 800-733-0502.
The Mendocino County coroner has identified two more of the eight people who have died in a wildfire in Redwood Valley.
They are Roy Howard Bowman, 87, and Irma Elsie Bowman, 88, both of Redwood Valley. The married couple was found in the remains of their home in the 4000 block of Fisher Lake Drive. Officials said the residence was completely destroyed by the fire.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office also confirmed the death of 14-year-old Kai Logan Shepherd. Family members previously had disclosed his death while his family attempted to flee the raging fire early Monday. Shepherd’s sister and parents survived, though they have burn injuries. Sheriff’s officials said the teen was found outside the family home in the 11300 block of West Road and apparently had been attempting to outrun the fire.
Four fires burning in the Sonoma Valley have all connected at times, and by late Friday morning fire officials estimated the fires collectively have scorched more than 44,000 acres from west of Napa to the hills above Bennett Valley.
The fires swing around the city of Sonoma and several valley communities, and this week have generated mandatory and advisory evacuations for the greater valley, especially in the surrounding high hills.
“It’s still a fair distance from the city limits,” said Sonoma Valley Fire Chief Steve Akre Friday morning. “We’ve built containment lines around ll the areas in the city. From Moon Mountain all the way around to Wood Valley.”
Akre Friday morning wasn’t anticipating more advisory or mandatory evacuations in that area, contingent on the effects of the pending wind.
The situation, however, remained tenuous, he said. “We’re still very concerned about the north winds. We’re working very hard to make sure we fortify those lines.”
The fires showed some growth overnight, but not substantial amounts, according to fire officials. The most active flames pushing boundaries above 1,000 feet, including in the Trinity and Cavedale areas on the Mayacamas range between Sonoma and Napa counties. Akre said that piece of the fire currently is pushing more toward Napa County.
The encompassing fire now includes the Nuns-Norrbom fire up in the Mayacamas hills through Glen Ellen, the Adobe fire running from Kenwood to Bennett Valley through Trione-Annadel State Park and the Partrick fire. The Partrick fire started at the Napa and Sonoma county line and has burned well into eastern Sonoma County. Friday morning that arm of the fire had burned more than 12,000 acres and has been active in the area of Lovall Road outside of eastern Sonoma.
Air tankers weren’t flying by mid morning as thick smoke blanketed the area. “We’re certainly hoping for a window,” Akre said. “We did have a little bit of a window (Thursday) we were able to get air support. We’re able to do a lot more when we get that. “
A group livestock and equine haulers are evacuating animals from fire endangered areas in Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties and placing them in shelters. The Sonoma/Napa Fires Livestocks Evac is dispatching 24/7 and has approved law enforcement clearance.
To volunteer or for more information, click here.
For emergencies only, contact 707-634-4935.
The City of Santa Rosa is not enforcing parking meters Friday. It is a day-to-day decision.
Mendocino County will hold a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Ukiah High School Cafetorium, 1000 Low Gap Road. The Sheriff’s Office and Cal Fire will provide updates on the ongoing fires, evacuation areas, shelters and power outages. Following the regularly scheduled meeting, there will be a Spanish language briefing.
For days as fires have ravaged the region, medical providers from all over Sonoma County have been working with the county Office of Emergency Services, coordinating the area’s medical response.
Headed by county emergency officials, the ad hoc coalition has been meeting daily, sharing information about available medical resources and how evacuation centers are being staffed. The coalition is also creating a web-based interface that should be up later today and will allow medical professionals to be matched with immediate health care needs.
“It’s amazing how people have just stepped up,” said Dr. Brad Drexler, a private practice OB/GYN in Healdsburg.
Drexler said one of the coalition’s main messages to the public is that most of the county’s clinics are open for service.
Local residents with nonemergency medical needs should go to one of the county’s health centers and avoid seeking such care at emergency departments.
The loss of two major hospitals in Santa Rosa has intensified the need for medical coordination in the region with the hope of directing people away from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s emergency room, as well as that of smaller rural and community hospitals.
See updates on Health Center status in Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties here.
The largest school district in Sonoma County, Santa Rosa City Schools, canceled all classes next week as fires continue to ravage the region.
The district, which serves 16,400 students, has not set a date to reopen but will remain closed all week, district spokeswoman Beth Berk said.
“We have eight schools without power right now,” Berk said this morning.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson will meet today with the leaders of Sonoma County’s school districts and tour schools damaged by the North Bay fires.
Firefighters early Friday streamed out of the Sonoma County fairgrounds in all directions, heading for firelines and hot spot patrol on a crucial day to make progress before anticipated strong winds arrive Friday night.
Progress was reported Friday on several fronts.
New containment lines on the Tubbs fire, estimated to be around one-quarter of the 34,770-acre fire, stretch down the east side from the Calistoga area into Santa Rosa, said a Cal Fire spokesman Friday.
“The containment lines are continuing to look good all the way down Petrified Forest and Calistoga roads,” said Paul Lowenthal, Santa Rosa’s assistant fire marshal and a spokesman for the area fires.
Also, lines are improving above Rincon Valley, from Calistoga Road to Fountaingrove.
“We’re starting to feel really good about the lines going in above Rincon Valley,” Lowenthal said. “We’re hoping to get that buttoned up today before the winds materialize.”
Today’s forecast includes dry warm winds from the northeast gusting to 40 mph — the National Weather Service has predicted 60 mph gusts — possibly starting this afternoon. The worst was predicted for about midnight.
Lowenthal described a stream of strike teams rolling out of the Sonoma County fairgrounds just after dawn. The fairground are base camp for the region’s complex firefight.
“They’re pumping crews as quickly as they can into the field this morning,” he said. “Hundreds of engines are on the move.
“Everybody has pretty much been told this is definitely a ‘heads up’ day. Be prepared and know it’s coming.”
While progress was solid in several areas, active fire still threatens numerous communities from the county’s fires, most of which are burning without almost no containment.
The other major issue continues to be the pockets of fire burning inside fire boundaries, which pose strategic concerns if tonight’s winds cause multiple flare ups threatening unburned nearby properties. The issue also then further thins resources.
“We still have lots of hot spots and lots of work to be done especially in and around burned areas inside the fire,” said Lowenthal.
He pointed to a fire late Thursday night on Hopper Avenue that rekindled from a burned area at the start of the fire. The flames flared about midnight at a damaged storage facility in northern Santa Rosa, one of hundreds or thousands of burned properties still smoldering.
“That just shows you this far into the incident of the concerns we have,” he said. “That’s why we aren’t releasing those mandatory evacuations.”
Firefighters continued to see improvements overnight in the battles in Napa County with almost 30 percent containment on the Atlas fire, now estimated at 48,228 acres, according to Cal Fire.
The fire Thursday was at about 44,000 acres and 3 percent contained.
The Partrick fire, which is burning in western Napa County, was at 12,379 acres and 18 percent contained, up from Thursday’s estimate of 10,800 acres and 2 percent containment.
Officials have said the increased sizes involved both spread of the fire and more accurate mapping of what already has burned this week.
Congressman Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, announced Friday the Internal Revenue Service’s decision to extend the deadline to file certain individual and business tax returns for victims of the wildfires in Lake, Sonoma and Napa counties.
The IRS has decided to extend the deadline for various tax filling and payment deadlines to Jan. 31, 2018 for many who have been devastated by the fires.
Firefighters continue to see improvements in the battles in Napa County with almost 30 percent containment on the Atlas fire, now estimated at 48,228 acres, according to Cal Fire.
The fire Thursday was about 44,000 acres and 3 percent contained.
The Partrick fire burning in western Napa County, was at 12,379 acres and 18 percent contained, up from Thursday’s estimate of 10,800 acres and 2 percent containment.
Officials have said the increased sizes involved both the fire’s spread and more accurate mapping.
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, announced Friday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has suspended all noncriminal immigration enforcement operations at wildfire evacuation sites or shelters due.
The suspension is in response to the devastating fires that continue to burn throughout the North Bay and the North Coast.
Rep. Huffman urges all residents, regardless of immigration status, to seek shelter and follow public safety and evacuation warnings, without any threat of action by ICE.
Mendocino County’s ongoing blaze held steady during the night at 34,000 acres with 10 percent containment, according to Cal Fire officials early Friday.
Firefighters on the Redwood fire, burning in Redwood and Potter valleys, are improving defensive lines but the fire continued burning in multiple directions and still threatened several communities. Like their counterparts working in the hills above Geyserville and along the Mayacamas Mountains near Sonoma, firefighters at the Redwood fire are working in inaccessible terrain with narrow drainage areas and steep canyons.
Eight people have been found dead in the Redwood fire and as of Friday, 1,000 homes and other structures remained threatened.
The Sulphur fire near Clearlake in Lake County Friday was 55 percent contained and held to 2,500 acres.
The City of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County are establishing a Local Assistance Center, a one-stop location where those affected by the Sonoma County fires can go for essential resources and assistance.
Representatives from city, county, state and federal agencies will be available.
Residents and business operators can prepare by collecting any personal documentation and paperwork they may have available, such as insurance policy numbers, birth certificates, driver’s license, social security card, passport, veterans’ information, etc.
It is helpful to have this information available but not required in order to receive assistance. Please continue to check here for details.
Weather conditions helped firefighting efforts overnight but a red flag warning remained in effect for Friday night due to increasing winds. Temperatures Saturday were expected to soar another 10 degrees or so, into the upper 80s.
Five fires burning in Sonoma County and parts of Napa County grew incrementally Thursday night and in some areas moved aggressively, but firefighters’ containment of them increased overnight, according to Cal Fire early Friday.
The Tubbs fire, which has devastated large areas of Santa Rosa and killed 17 there and destroyed more than 2,800 homes, burned during the night along its northern edge stretching into Lake County and along its eastern flank, with spot fires cropping up south of control lines. That fire is almost 35,000 acres and 25 percent containment.
The Pocket fire in the hills high above Geyserville was pushing on its southern and eastern edges, fueled by steep slopes and dry brush. That fire was estimated at almost 10,000 acres with 5 percent containment.
Problems in the Nuns-Norrbom fire in Sonoma Valley, stretching into Napa County along the Mayacamas range, included active firefights in the higher areas, pushed by a northwest wind, officials said. That fire was around 44,400 acres and 5 percent contained.
Friday about 12:30 a.m. officials issued a new advisory evacuation notice for areas west of Highway 29 between Oakville Grade and Rutherford Road.
Mandatory evacuations in the area already are in place for west of Dry Creek Road between Oakville Grade and Redwood Road.
Fire still burning in the highest elevations also remained an issue in the Adobe fire, which stretches from Kenwood through Trione-Annadel State Park, the edges of Oakmont and the hills above Bennett Valley. It remained at 7,500 acres with 1 percent containment.