Fire in California Wine Country Forces Evacuation of Entire Town
A wildfire that jumped across California’s famed Napa Valley forced the evacuation of an entire wine country resort town and threatened thousands of homes in a region devastated by blazes just three years ago.
The Glass Fire north of San Francisco reached more than 42,500 acres as of Tuesday morning, nearly quadrupling in size over 24 hours, and is 0% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. A second fire that erupted in Shasta County has killed at least three people.
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The blazes broke out after a weekend of hot weather with dry winds in Northern California, which has already been buffeted by a record wildfire season. The gusts have now faded in that region but are gaining strength in the southern part of the state. Officials on Monday and Tuesday began deploying firefighters and equipment to Southern California in hopes of quickly stopping any new fires there.
Utility giant PG&E Corp., which cut service to about 195,000 people in an attempt to keep its equipment from sparking blazes, said late Monday that it has largely restored power to those customers. But about 37,000 households and businesses are now without electricity because of the latest round of fires.
In Napa wine country, the entire town of Calistoga was told to leave late Monday night, with more evacuation orders Tuesday in the area of Angwin. At least 68,000 people are under evacuation orders in Sonoma County, according to the sheriff’s office. Governor Gavin Newsom urged people to listen to warnings and leave immediately when asked.
“So many of the people that have lost their lives were just cautious in terms of taking seriously those orders,” Newsom said in a media briefing Monday. “We really, really cannot say it enough. Please heed local law enforcement. Please listen to them when they raise that alarm bell.”
California has been battered for weeks by rounds of extreme weather that state officials say have been fueled by climate change. Last month, a record-breaking heat wave triggered the state’s first rotating power outages since the 2001 energy crisis — and was followed just three weeks later by another one. More than 8,000 wildfires have burned a record 3.7 million acres this year, choking cities with smoke, killing at least 29 people and destroying more than 7,000 structures.
On Tuesday, more than 18,700 firefighters were battling 27 major blazes across the state. The 25 counties that have suffered fires this year account for nearly three-quarters of California’s population and over two-thirds of state employment, according to the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.
Shares of PG&E — which went bankrupt last year after its equipment ignited catastrophic fires — were little changed Tuesday after tumbling the most in three months on Monday. The company said in a statement that it has no information indicating that its equipment was involved in the start of either the Glass Fire or the Zogg Fire in Shasta County.
The causes of the blazes remain under investigation.
The Glass Fire broke out early Sunday in the hills east of Napa Valley, and embers flew across the valley floor, carrying the fire to the hills on the western side. The fire is now raging northeast of Santa Rosa, the area devastated by the 2017 Tubbs Fire, among the most destructive in California history. Properties damaged in the famed vineyard region included the Chateau Boswell estate, the Meadowood resort and the Castello di Amorosa winery.
At least 80 residences were destroyed in Napa and Sonoma counties, while more than 10,700 structures are under threat, according to Cal Fire.
About 180 miles north, the Zogg Fire burned at least 40,300 acres, prompting more evacuations.
California’s peak wildfire season traditionally runs from September through November. It has grown longer and less predictable in recent years, with blazes coming as late as December.
— With assistance by Edward Ludlow
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