'Not much of a break': Crews struggle with deadly wildfires racing through Northern California, wine country
SAN FRANCISCO – Fire crews on Tuesday continued to battle two ferocious blazes – including one torching portions of the state's beloved wine country – that destroyed homes and forced at least 70,000 people to scramble to safety.
Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini confirmed three people died in the Zogg Fire, which has burned through 40,317 acres near Redding in Northern California since Sunday.
The Glass Fire, which also ignited Sunday, has charred more than 36,236 acres in the Napa and Sonoma wine region about 45 miles north of San Francisco, according to Cal Fire.
Gusty winds, which accelerated the pace of the fires, eased somewhat Monday afternoon. But the Glass and Zogg fires were still at 0% containment as of Tuesday morning. "Our firefighters have not had much of a break, and these residents have not had much of a break,” said Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire's assistant deputy director.
Fire officials say the Zogg Fire exhibits "high-intensity" fire behavior on the northwest end and is partially burning in the footprint of the 2018 Carr Fire.
The Glass Fire has destroyed homes in 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.
The fires in Napa and Sonoma come as the region nears the third anniversary of deadly blazes that erupted in 2017, including one that killed 22 people and destroyed 5,600 structures. Last month, many of those same residents were evacuated from the path of a lightning-sparked fire that became the fourth-largest in state history.
Late Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Shasta, Napa and Sonoma counties and asked President Donald Trump for federal fire assistance.
Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, who is rebuilding a home damaged in the 2017 fires, evacuated her property in the Oakmont community of Santa Rosa at about 1 a.m. Monday. Flames singed three neighboring houses as she fled, she said.
“We’re experienced with that,” she said. “Once you lose a house and represent thousands of folks who’ve lost homes, you become pretty fatalistic that this is a new way of life and, depressingly, a normal way of life, the megafires that are spreading throughout the West.”
In Napa County, the entire town of Calistoga, population 5,000, was ordered to evacuate Monday evening. Other residents have been warned that they might have to flee.
“The smoky skies that we’re under are a sign that there’s not a lot of air movement out there moving the smoke around,” Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nichols said Monday evening. “Not good for air quality, and folks outside exercising, but great for us to work on containing this fire and working on putting it out.”
Dominic Wiggens evacuated the Skyhawk neighbhorhood in Santa Rosa but returned later Monday to find his home was still standing – but many others were gone. “It’s so sad,” he said.
'We just don't have words': At least 3 dead as California wildfires explode in wine country, forcing thousands to flee
Fire season in California has been historic this year: More than 8,100 wildfires have singed more than 3.7 million acres, according to Cal Fire. Since Aug. 15 – when California’s fire activity elevated – 29 people have died, and more than 7,000 structures have been destroyed.
By Monday night, Pacific Gas & Electric said it had restored electricity to all of the 100,000 customers whose power was shut off in advance of high winds in fire zones. However, PG&E said about 24,000 people remained without power in areas affected by two fires in Napa, Sonoma, Shasta and Tehama counties. The utility’s equipment has caused previous disasters, including the 2018 Camp Fire that killed 85 people and devastated the town of Paradise in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Contributing: David Benda and Michele Chandler, Redding (Calif.) Record Searchlight; The Associated Press