SAN FRANCISCO – Thousands of fire-sapped California residents fled two new blazes Monday that exploded in size overnight, torching more than 25,000 acres.
The breakneck Zogg Fire had burned through 15,000 acres near Redding in Northern California, and the Glass Fire tore through 11,000 acres in the Napa and Sonoma wine country north of San Francisco, according to Cal Fire. Both fires were at 0% containment as of 9:30 a.m. PT.
The fires, driven by gusty winds, burned several structures overnight, including multiple homes in the city of Santa Rosa as well as the Chateau Boswell winery and the nearby Black Rock Inn in the Napa County town of St. Helena. The area contains more than five dozen wineries.
“That fire last night was moving at about 40 mph because of the wind, down the hill into the city of Santa Rosa, and we’re hoping for better conditions here today,” state Sen. Mike McGuire told KTVU-TV, adding that he has been in constant contact with Cal Fire.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for Napa and Sonoma counties, where two smaller offshoots of the Glass Fire, the Shady and Boysen fires, merged to expand the blaze. More than 8,500 homes and other buildings were threatened.
The wine country has been scarred by terrible fires in recent years, including the 2017 Tubbs Fire that killed 22 people and destroyed more than 5,600 structures.
“There have been numerous evacuations, that’s been going on through the night,” Cal Fire spokesman Tyree Zander said. “(The fires) have a rapid rate of spread, a dangerous rate of spread.”
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for most of Northern California through Monday. A heat wave in the West is combining with dry winds whipping the area, heightening the risk of wildfires this week.
Heightened danger: As heat wave brings ‘critical risks’ of wildfires, California contends with two new blazes
In Sonoma, about 4,500 residents of the Oakmont Village senior living community fled the fast-moving fires – many in nightclothes and robes and gripping canes and walkers as ash spewed in the sky – the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“It was scary and I didn’t expect it to be so close,” Doris Tietze, 91, an Oakmont resident, told the Chronicle.
The fire season in California has taken a huge toll already. Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 8,100 wildfires that have burned more than 3.7 million acres throughout the state, according to Cal Fire. And since Aug, 15 – when California’s fire activity elevated – 26 people have died and more than 7,000 structures have been destroyed.
#RedFlagWarning – The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning across much of Northern California due to critical fire weather. Watch this short video to learn more.Caption version available here: https://t.co/qt35V5toVG pic.twitter.com/TWAP2I92YU
Crews are currently battling 25 major wildfires with gusty winds and low humidity across the state, Cal Fire said.
The National Weather service said the winds driving the Zogg Fire will continue to be strong into the morning and afternoon before dying down in the evening. Winds combined with the low humidity are giving momentum to the fire.
“With low humidity, any fuel is just more prone to burn, especially with those dried-out fuels we have right now,” National Weather Service meteorologist Emily Heller said.
And 40 miles to the south, the enormous August Complex Fire continues to burn. The largest wildfire in state history, about 130 miles north of San Francisco, has charred more than 878,000 acres and was a major contributor to the dangerous air quality state residents were exposed to for days about three weeks ago and the apocalyptic skies over the Bay Area on Sept. 9.
The wildfires have made air quality an issue in recent weeks. Neither the August Complex nor the Creek Fire, which has incinerated more than 304,000 acres of a forest 60 miles northeast of Fresno, is yet 50% contained. So they continue to spew smoke and foul up the air in their surroundings and, depending on the wind, even hundreds of miles away.
People with respiratory ailments are especially susceptible to that harmful air, said John Watson, a research professor of air quality science at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada.
Power is being shut off for 65,000 Northern California electric customers in 16 counties to prevent the spread of wildfires that have engulfed areas of the state, PG&E officials said Sunday. The shutoff was enacted as result of a red flag warning because of high winds, they said.
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News – ‘Dangerous rate of speed’: Two California wildfires explode in wine country, forcing thousands to flee