s
s
Sections
Search
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

North Bay residents were startled Saturday afternoon as a large, new wildland blaze erupted in Yolo County and a week-old fire flared up in Lake County, pouring smoke across the North Bay.

Calls streamed into local fire stations and the Sonoma County emergency dispatch center from people worried that plumes visible from Santa Rosa to Sacramento marked a repeat of the devastating firestorms in October, the worst in California history.

The dispatch center summoned extra staff members as calls came in so rapidly “they couldn’t put the phone down without a couple more coming in,” a dispatcher said.

The call volume tailed off a bit after the Santa Rosa Police Department, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and the Windsor and Rincon Valley Fire Districts issued Nixle notices from about 6 to 7 p.m. saying there was no threat to Sonoma County.

Mark Basque, a Santa Rosa fire battalion chief, said the reaction was understandable given last year’s horror — flames roaring into Sonoma County in the middle of the night, killing 24 people and destroying nearly 5,300 homes, most in the span of 12 hours.

“All of a sudden you have a massive column of smoke in the east,” Basque said. “It looks a lot closer than it is.”

The National Weather Service posted a satellite imagery that showed smoke from the two fires drifting south over Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties as well as parts of the East Bay.

The new fire in Yolo County erupted just after 2 p.m. Saturday in the grasslands of Capay Valley south of the small town of Guinda on Highway 16 at County Road 63. It moved quickly into the hills of western Yolo County.

The wind-driven County fire, initially called the Guinda fire, started at a few hundred acres and by Saturday night had scorched 8,000 acres and was completely uncontained, Cal Fire said.

Roy Skinner, a Cal Fire spokesman, attributed the fire’s speed to “red flag conditions” — high heat, strong winds and low humidity.

The blaze, which created its own strong updraft, threw embers southward as far as a mile, he said.

At the Cache Creek Casino on Highway 16 about 9 p.m., Skinner said he could see a “spectacular line of fire” in the hills to the west.

Winds eased considerably in the valley at night, but the aerial attack on the fire was grounded.

“We’re at the mercy of the weather at this point,” Skinner said.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said a red flag warning had been extended until 3 p.m. today for elevations above 1,000 feet in Napa County and far eastern Sonoma County. The warning means critical fire weather conditions are either present or will occur shortly.

Thirty structures were threatened within the County fire evacuation zone from County Road 63 to County Road 76, west of Highway 16, plus the Murphy Ranch area. The area has scattered cattle ranches and olive groves, Skinner said.

An evacuation center was set up at Guinda Grange Hall.

Cal Fire said 41 engines, eight water tenders, 11 helicopters, nine air tankers, 17 bulldozers and 10 hand crews were battling the blaze.

Meanwhile, the Pawnee fire in Lake County flared up Saturday afternoon amid hot, tinder-dry conditions with winds gusting up to 35 mph, prompting a recall of firefighters and a renewed evacuation of residents in the Double Eagle subdivision.

“We had people that left this morning who turned around and came right back,” said Gabe Lauderdale, a Cal Fire spokesman.

The fire’s coverage increased about 1 percent to 13,850 acres by Saturday night, but Lauderdale said that was a combination of more accurate mapping and fire activity within containment lines.

With humidity about 10 percent and temperatures in the upper 90s, plus the wind, sparks produced within the containment area were nearly certain to ignite unburned fuel, Lauderdale said.

The fire was 73 percent contained Saturday and full containment is expected Tuesday, Cal Fire said.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office issued a mandatory evacuation order Saturday afternoon for about 200 residents of the Double Eagle subdivision, and an evacuation shelter was reopened at Lower Lake High School in Clearlake.

Double Eagle residents had been allowed back into their homes Thursday as the fire came under greater control.

An evacuation advisory was issued for the area south of Highway 20 to Morgan Valley Road and east from Sky High Ridge Road to the county line

Road closures were in effect at Mule Skinner Road at Highway 20; Walker Ridge Road and Highway 20 and Highway 20 between Highway 16 and Highway 53.

With the return of active fire, the firefighter staffing that had peaked at more than 3,000 was at 2,269 personnel Saturday night.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @guykovner. You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or at kevin.fixler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @kfixler.

Show Comment