Update Nov. 7:
According to CalFire's incident site, the Kincade Fire is now 100% contained with no reported growth.
Update Nov. 6:
According to CalFire's incident site, the Kincade Fire is now 88% contained with no reported growth.
Update Nov. 5:
According to CalFire's incident site, the Kincade Fire is now 84% contained with no reported growth.
Update Nov. 4, 3:30 p.m.:
According to a Nixle released by the Sheriff's Office, all evacuation warnings have been lifted and all checkpoints removed.
As of 3 p.m., all checkpoints have been removed and vehicle passes aren’t required. Deputies will continue to provide additional security checks to the burned areas.
Update Nov. 4, 9 a.m.:
According to CalFire's incident site, the Kincade Fire is now 80% contained with no reported growth.
Update Nov. 3, 8 p.m.:
According to CalFire's incident site, the Kincade Fire is now 78% contained with no reported growth.
CalFire also issued this repopulation update at 3 p.m.
Update Nov. 3, 9 a.m.:
According to CalFire's incident site, the Kincade Fire is now 76% contained with no reported growth.
Update Nov. 2, 7 p.m.:
CalFire has not reported any changes to the Kincade Fire since this morning.
According to a release from District 4 Supervisor James Gore, areas downgraded to an evacuation warning now includes ZONE 1D, which is the portion of Zone 1 west of the Lake County Line, east of Highway 128 at Terra Rosa Lane, and north of Briggs Ranch Road. This includes Pine Flat Road.
The areas south and east (Zones 1C and 3C), including Chalk Hill Road and Briggs Ranch Road areas, are still under evacuation order.
Update: Nov. 2, 7:45 a.m.
Containment is now 72% with no growth reported since Nov. 1.
Update: Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Containment is now 70% with no growth reported since this morning.
Update: Nov. 1, 8:30 a.m. — Containment 68%
The Kincade Fire is now at 77,758 acres, according to CalFire, growing less than 1,000 acres since reported Oct. 31.
CalFire is no longer holding press conferences on the fire, as it is no longer posing a serious threat to a populated area. It will update the statistics of the fire on its site.
For reentry and recovery resources, Sonoma County will open a Local Assistance Center on Monday, Nov. 4, at the Healdsburg Community Center, 1557 Healdsburg Ave. The LAC will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Wednesday, November 6. The LAC may remain open after this date if needed.
Spanish interpretation will be available.
Update: Oct. 31, 8:30 a.m. — Containment grows to 60%
At the 7 a.m. update on the status of the Kincade Fire, the containment numbers increased to 60% from the 45% it was at last night.
Due to low wind and better weather conditions, firefighters were able to make progress containing the fire.
"Access to the northern part of the fire remains challenging because of steep terrain and narrow roads, but firefighters will continue to build on the progress they made today with even more control lines being established," reads the incident update from CalFire.
First responder injuries is at four people, having jumped between the morning and evening updates on Oct. 30.
5,245 first responders are still on the fire lines, repairing damaged lines and patrolling for spot fires.
Since the fire started last week, 282 structures have been destroyed, 141 of which are residential structures.
50 have been damaged, 33 of which are residential.
Update: Oct. 30, 7:35 p.m. — Containment at 45%, significant progress made
At a press conference at 6:30 p.m. at the Kincade Fire incident base camp, CalFire officials announced that crews have made significant progress on the fire.
According to CalFire Communications Officers Johnathan Cox, the fire has now burned 76,825 acres and is 45% contained.
“Most of the threat is in the rearview mirror. We are moving forward,” said Sonoma County Sheriff Chief Mark Essick.
4,200 first responders are still on the fire lines, repairing damaged lines and patrolling for spot fires.
Since the fire started last week, 266 structures have been destroyed, 133 of which are residential structures.
47 have been damaged, 32 of which are residential.
Firefighting conditions improved when winds decreased last night.
“The winds that we were talking about yesterday did not materialize to the extreme that we were fearful of,” Cox said.
The wind advisory was lifted at 4 p.m., Oct.30.
While winds have died down, dry conditions persist and there is no rain in the forecast.
Tonight there will be more cold temperatures, from the upper 20s to low 30s in valley areas.
Essick said 5,788 people remain under a mandatory evacuation. This primarily includes people from the burn zones.
He noted that residents who returned to their homes in Windsor and Healdsburg are still under an evacuation warning.
There have been no new looting arrests since the three total reported at yesterday’s Oct. 29 evening press conference. However, in the last 24 hours there have been 10 arrests.
The arrests are related to people who entered an evacuation zones and police found probable cause that they had no reason to.
Essick said as people start returning home, it is important to keep an eye out for downed trees or utility lines.
He said of the massive evacuation of Windsor, Healdsburg and West County, “I think we made the right decision to evacuate.”
He said the resiliency of Sonoma County is amazing.
“It exemplifies what we’ve learned … and shows the spirit and strength in Sonoma County,” Essick said.
CHP Santa Rosa area Capt. Aristotle Wolfe said traffic conditions on Highway 101 have been increasing since the mandatory evacuations on Healdsburg and Windsor have lifted.
Celeste Phillip, Sonoma County health officer, reminded people that food that has been in a fridge with no power for four hours or longer is not good to eat.
She also said air quality is improving.
Update: Oct. 30, 7 a.m. — Containment jumps to 30%
Firefighters made significant progress on the Kincaid Fire overnight, thanks in part to high winds that never appeared. Although the fire crept up to 76,825 acres, containment leapt to 30%. The number of firefighters climbed to more than 5,000, but the number of structures destroyed by the fire nearly doubled, up to 206, including 94 homes. The eastern part of the fire was the most active sector last night, while the steep terrain and narrow roads of the northern sector continued to frustrate firefighting efforts.
Update: Oct. 30, 2:58 p.m. — Wind advisory canceled
Although a Red Flag Warning remains in effect, the National Weather Service has canceled its wind advisory for the mountainous regions of the North Bay. The Santa Rosa Fire Department wrote of this decision on its Facebook, "This is one of those times we're happy they got the forecast wrong."
Update: Oct. 29, 7:31 p.m.
At a press conference at 6:30 p.m., CalFire Communications Officer Jonathan Cox said the Kincade Fire has reached the edge of the Tubbs Fire burn scar and is at 76,138 acres with 15% containment. A total of 189 structures have been destroyed; 86 of those are residences.
There are 4,870 firefighters working on the fire lines. Twenty-seven helicopters and other aircraft have dropped more than 2.1 million gallons of water since the start of the incident.
According to National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Walbrun, a Red Flag warning continues until 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30.
With 50 mph wind gusts at Mt. St. Helena and extremely dry fuel, officials said the threat is not yet over, which is why mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect in Windsor, Healdsburg and north Santa Rosa. Humidity is expected to hit low of 6%.
Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick reminded people to stay vigilant and safe.He said there are 260 deputies patrolling neighborhoods.
"There were three reports of looting in some evacuation areas,” he noted. No arrests have been made in connection to the incidents, and the investigations are still ongoing.
In regard to repopulation (which refers to allowing residents back into areas that have not been damaged by fire), Essick said, "Hopefully we’ll see some good repopulation news in the next few days.”
Barbie Robinson, the director of the Department of Health Services, reminded people to throw out food if it has been in a refrigerator that has not had power for more than four hours. It was also noted that a health advisory is in effect for the county due to poor air quality, and residents should limit their exposure outside.
Sonoma County Supervisor Chairperson David Rabbitt thanked first responders and commended the amount of volunteerism that has happened since the beginning of the event.
"Thank you for the outpouring of concern. People's generosity is on full display," Rabbitt said.
Updated: Oct. 29, 9:20 a.m.
The Kincade Fire was quiet last night, increasing in acreage from 73,324 to 75,415. It stands at 15% containment.
However, firefighters spent the night and the morning working to prepare for another wind event that's anticipated to hit today and tomorrow.
A red flag warning is issued for Tuesday, Oct. 29 and Wednesday, Oct. 30 for winds expected to be between 20 and 30 mph with 40 to 50 mph gusts. The incoming winds are expected to once again test the western flanks of the fire along the Highway 101 corridor.
"The fuels are critically dry," said CalFire plan section chief Adam Mitchell. "They are receptive to new fire as well as fire spread."
He continued that the increased winds may also cause trees that were weakened by fire spread to fall.
National Weather Service representative Ryan Walburn said that, following the wind event, the weather is supposed to be stable for the next five to seven days.
"Today is probably not going to be a good day to talk about repopulation in terms of good news," Sheriff Mark Essick said. "Today is probably going to be a day where we pause repopulation."
Repopulation refers to allowing people to go back into an area that has been evacuated, but has not been burned.
Essick also noted that Monday night was quiet when it comes to additional activity near evacuation zones, with no arrests or incidents to report surrounding reentry or looting.
Updated: Oct. 29, 7 a.m.
The Kincade Fire has increased in size to 75,415 acres, and containment is holding at 15%. There are now 4,548 firefighters battling the blaze, including 547 fire engines, 66 bulldozers and 27 helicopters from around California and neighboring states.
Updated: Oct. 28, 7:10 p.m.
The Kincade Fire has increased in size to 73,324 acres, but has also seen an increase of containment to 15%.
According to Jonathan Cox, public information officer for CalFire, 123 structures have been destroyed, 57 of which are residential homes.
The break in wind following the 11 a.m. end of a red flag warning led to decreased fire spotting and less fire activity. While firefighters were able to increase containment, much of their time was spent preparing for a red flag warning that's in effect from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Wind on Tuesday is expected to be between 20 and 30 mph with 40 to 50 mph gusts.
"It is weaker, nonetheless very significant," said a National Weather Service representative.
Today's weather and fire conditions led to two of the evacuation zones (zone 7 and part of zone 8) being reclassified as being under evacuation warning, rather than mandatory evacuation.
Zone 7 includes:
- Bodega Bay
- Monte Rio
- Rio Nido
- Duncans Mills
- Graton (west of Highway 116 only)
The portion of zone 8 put on warning includes:
- Twin Hills
- Western unincorporated Santa Rosa
"At this time we have weighed the risks with the weather forecast and the fire forecast and we feel comfortable allowing people back in this area," Sheriff Mark Essick said.
Essick said that while the areas within zone 7 and part of zone 8 are under warnings, there are still hazards that people should look out for repopulating. Due to the high speed of wind, there may be fallen trees or increased debris on the road. Essick added that, while they made an education decision to repopulate the area, there's always the possibility that people may have to evacuate again.
Cox said that as they're allowing people back into their homes on the west side of the fire, they're having to watch the east side. Most recently, evacuation warnings were issued in Lake County in the following areas, according to CalFire: "Highway 29 from Butts Canyon Road South to the county line. All of Butts Canyon Road in Lake County between Highway 29 and the Napa County line. Highway 175 between Highway 29 Middleton North to McKinley Drive. This includes Middletown proper, Twin Pine Casino, Middletown Rancheria, Dry Creek area, all roads off of Highway 175 between Middletown and McKinley Drive and Butts Canyon Road including all side streets.
This afternoon also saw the first incident related to potential looting. Multiple people were found in Geyserville for "no apparent reason," Essick said. While the incident is still under investigation, Essick said that the Sheriff's Office believes the subjects had criminal intent and were prowling.
"We’re playing both offense and defense right now on two different sides of the fire, and we’re going to have to flip flop that tomorrow," Cox said.
CalFire anticipates that the fire will be contained by Nov. 7.
UPDATE: OCT. 28, 10:30 a.m.
Firefighters held the line at the east edge of Windsor last night, keeping the blaze away from the Foothill and Lockwood neighborhoods and far away from the Rubicon of Highway 101.
In an interview with a local fire captain yesterday afternoon on his Facebook page, Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli learned that firefighters were bulldozing a wider firebreak between the Foothill neighborhood and the park beyond.
In the early hours of Monday, Foppoli was on the scene in another Windsor neighborhood on Lockwood Drive.
"Firefighters have done a phenomenal job again--somehow, miraculously again have saved any major damage from happening to any houses in Windsor city limits," Foppoli said around 1 a.m. "The immediate threat to the Lockwood neighborhood has been put out, but there's always a danger of more sparks and spot fires. This is not an excuse for anyone to come back. We are still under mandatory evacuation."
Winds are scheduled to die down today, but are predicted to kick up again on Tuesday., Oct. 29.
Updated: Oct. 28, 9:30 a.m.
More than 4,000 firefighters from a number of states are now in Sonoma County fighting the Kincade Fire.
The fire more than doubled in size, Fire Chief Mark Blankenheim said during a 9 a.m. press conference on Monday morning. However, a break in wind patterns starting at around 11 a.m. today is predicted to lower the amount of fire spotting and reduce overall fire activity.
Blankenheim said that a big portion of today's firefighting plan will focus on perimeter control and gearing up for the wind event that's predicted to take place between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.
"Firefighters are preparing for the next wind event that’s coming," said a fire behavior analyst who spoke during the press conference, adding that they're still working on creating the models that will predict how the wind may impact fire spread.
Congressman Jared Huffman spoke on Monday, saying that both he and Congressman Mike Thompson have been working with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that there is no immigration enforcement activity
"I'm pleased to update you that within the last 24 hours we have received that official assurance from the Department of Homeland Security," Huffman said. "Everyone seeking services or shelter in the immigrant community should do so with confidence that there will not be immigration enforcement activity.
Sheriff Mark Essick also talked about reentry and repopulation. While there are no current plans to allow for reentry (entry to an area that has suffered a burn), Essick did say that the Sheriff's Office will be meeting with CalFire and the Emergency Operation Center later today to discuss possible repopulation (allowing people to go back to an area that hasn't been impacted by fire).
"When it comes to repopulation we’re going to look at repopulating the west county first, and then make our way in," Essick said. "When we make those decisions we will announce them on Nixle."
All evacuation warnings and orders are still in place.
Updated: Oct. 28, 8 a.m.
An early morning update from CalFire shows an increase in fire acreage to 66,231 acres. The fire is still 5% contained.
Last night's fire spread caused evacuations on Faught Road from Shiloh to Old Redwood Highway in Larkfield-Wikiup.
Additionally, the reported count of structures that have been destroyed has gone up from 94 to 96, 40 of the structures are residential.
Updated: Oct. 27, 6:45 p.m.
Sunday night's Kincade Fire press conference brought both good and bad news with regard to the fire that's been blazing in north county since late Wednesday night. Over the course of Sunday, the fire grew from 30,000 acres to 54,298 acres. Additionally, while Kincade was 10% contained on Sunday morning, it was 5% contained on Sunday night.
When it comes to direct firefighting efforts, firefighters worked to largely prevent the fire from extending further toward the town of Windsor. According to officials, the fire appears to be at the edge of town.
Healdsburg Mayor David Hagele said that a "deliberate, coordinated effort" saved Healdsburg and much of north county.
When Windsor Vice Mayor Debora Fudge was forced to evacuate Windsor, the threat of losing her home became real.
"I thought I knew what that meant," Fudge said of the fear that comes alongside an evacuation. "Last night when we didn't know what would happen in Windsor and what structures were threatened I found out what that meant in a real way."
Fudge said that she spent the most of Sunday disseminating information.
Hagele was in Healdsburg on Sunday and saw first hand what he described as "massive amounts of smoke" on the way into town.
The fire has now resulted in two firefighter burn injuries — one minor injury that resulted in the firefighter being taken by ground ambulance, and another more serious injury where the firefighter was airlifted to UC Davis.
As of Sunday night, 94 structures had been destroyed in the fire. However there is no information regarding how many are residences.
"Ladies and gentleman we are doing the right thing by keeping you out of these areas," Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said. "Your life is our priority, it is my priority as your sheriff."
As the winds that helped fuel the fire on Sunday start to taper, an oncoming wind event is supposed to increase fire activity Tuesday evening.
"This afternoon I had a chance to take a look at the fire from the air," Essick said. "I can report to you that this is still a very active fire."
Essick addressed and was asked questions relating to when mandatory evacuation notices will be lifted. While all evacuation orders are still in place, Essick said that people will be allowed to return to their homes as soon as it's safe. He didn't provide any estimations of when that may be.
"To say it's a tinderbox is an understatement," a CalFire representative said, adding that they're still battling the heart of the fire.
In Healdsburg, Hagele is thinking about how the Kincade Fire will continue to impact north county long after the flames are contained.
"This kind of massive event absolutely impacts business — but I think this city, this community, this county is resilient," Hagele said. "We bounce back quick."
Hagele added that once the fire is contained, he doesn't want people to cancel their reservations and plans for the next year or six months — he wants people to come back.
UPDATE: Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m.
One arm of the Kincade fire is moving in a southwestern direction, leaving spot fires scattered around Chalk Hill Road and threatening the eastern edges of Windsor around Hembree and Vinecrest.
Windsor city councilmember Dominic Foppoli said "Fire crews are doing a great job, but it's rough."
He said vineyards and wineries, including his family winery, Christopher Creek, are at risk on Limerick Lane, which is located between Healdsburg and Windsor.
A Nixle at 11:28 a.m. on Sunday morning said "fire crews are fighting spot fires along Milk Barn Road, Limerick Lane, Hillview Lane and Arata Lane."
On her facebook around 11 a.m., Supervisor Lynda Hopkins wrote this: "What's between Windsor and Healdsburg? The Russian River Valley, which is where this fire could go and why we received evacuation orders. If you have not evacuated, and you live in an area under evacuation orders, LEAVE NOW. DO NOT WAIT."
Updated: Oct. 27, 11:30 a.m.
Cal Fire held a press conference Sunday morning to give an update regarding the state of evacuations and firefighting efforts pertaining to the Kincade Fire.
“It was quite a night for us,” Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said. “We have over 180,000 people on evacuation for us right now.”
Essick said that while some may question the scope of the evacuation, it was well-warranted.
Fire Chief Mike Blankenheim said that the fire is fairly well established on Highway 128, but hasn’t crossed the lines of Highway 101. However, multiple officials noted on Sunday that there’s still a possibility of the fire spotting and travelling over to the west side of Highway 101.
Blankenheim said that the current and predicted fire conditions should have people “very concerned” about the possibility of fire spread.
Should the fire spread west over Highway 101, Steve Vulner, a fire behavior analyst said that west county has extremely dense, decadent and dry fire fuel that may encourage fire spread.
Northbound Highway 101 has been closed on-and-off this morning, as both fire risk and heavy smoke (at different points) caused northern parts of the highway to be shut down. Most recently, Highway 101 was closed from the Arata to Dry Creek exits.
Updated: Oct. 27, 8 a.m.
There was a barrage of alerts issued relating to the Kincade Fire on Sunday morning, as winds picked up in northern Sonoma County.
A Sunday morning update from CalFire said that the fire had grown to 30,000 acres and was 10% contained.
By Saturday night, mandatory evacuations had been issued for Alexander and Knights valleys, Geyserville, Healdsburg, Windsor, most the west county, from Stewarts Point-Skaggs Springs Road on the north, to north of Sebastopol in the south, all the way to the coast, Sebastopol. Mandatory evacuations also include: the Dry Creek Valley, Larkfield, Mark West, Petrified Forest Road, Porter Creek drainage, NE Santa Rosa including Fountaingrove, Oakmont, Rincon Valley, the county jurisdiction of Porter Creek, Petrified Forrest, Calistoga and St. Helena Rds. All areas in the city limits of Santa Rosa west of Highway 101 and north of Highway 12, north of Steele Lane, Lewis Road, Chanate Road to Montecito Boulevard to Calistoga Road. Oakmont, Fountaingrove and Rincon Valley evacuations are not under mandatory evacuation and is under the jurisdiction of the city of Santa Rosa. For an updated map of evacuations, click here.
According to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, approximately 180,000 people in the county were under evacuation order.
High wind in the area of the Kincade Fire was expected to peak early Sunday morning, with wind gusts from 60 to 80 mph and sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph, a National Weather Service meteorologist said during an evening press conference on Saturday, Oct. 26. The wind event is expected to last from Saturday night to midday Sunday.
According to the National Weather Service, wind gusts peaked Sunday morning at 93 mph in the Healdsburg hills.
It was announced at 5:17 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27 that Highway 101 northbound was closed from the Hopper Avenue exit to the South Cloverdale Boulevard exit. However, the freeway was in the process of being opened by 6:52 a.m.
Update: Oct. 27, 6:30 p.m.
As of Saturday night, the Kincade Fire was reported to be 25,955 acres and 11% contained.
Additional evacuations have been issued for the Kincade Fire. Evacuated areas include all previously reported areas, as well as Healdsburg; Windsor; most the west county, from Stewarts Point-Skaggs Springs Road on the north, to north of Sebastopol in the south, all the way to the coast. It also includes the Dry Creek Valley, Larkfield, Mark West, Petrified Forest Road and Porter Creek drainage.
Additional evacuation warnings have been issued for Calistoga Road/Petrified Forest Road to the Sonoma and Napa County line, as well as west of Fulton, Graton South to Hessel.
An evacuation warning means you should pack your car and be ready to leave at a moment's notice should you get a mandatory evacuation order.
Seventy-seven structures have been destroyed, with 31 being residential. Fourteen structures have been damaged.
As more of the county is evacuated, Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said that he's heard of people refusing to evacuate their homes.
"Fire is not something you can fight," he said, urging people in mandatory evacuation zones to evacuate. "In October 2017 we lost 24 lives in Sonoma County because we didn’t have a warning. Now we have a warning."
CalFire is now estimating that the fire will reach full containment by Nov. 7.
Update: Oct. 27, 7 a.m. — According to a morning update from CalFire, the Kincade Fire is 25,455 acres and 10% contained.
Last night, the fire caused additional evacuations in northern Sonoma County.
"Evacuate now from Ida Clayton Road, which includes residents on Ida Clayton Road, north to Highland Ranch Road at Campbell Road, east of Highway 101 between Asti Road and Alexander Valley Road, to the Mendocino/Lake County line, including Lakeview Road and extending south along the Lake/Sonoma County Line to Ida Clayton Road," reads an alert from the Sheriff's Office.
Additionally, folks north of Highway 129 to the Sonoma/Napa County border and east of Highway 128 to Ida Clayton Road were put on evacuation warning.
While not included in the evacuation order that was sent out, folks at Cloverdale's Palomino Lakes were also being evacuated Friday night, as stated by various residents and confirmed by Supervisor James Gore.
According to CalFire's update, it's estimated that the fire will be fully contained by Oct. 31.
Update: Oct. 26, 6:30 p.m. — The Kincade Fire is now 23,700 acres large and 5% contained, according to CalFire at an Oct. 25 press conference. There are 600 structures threatened.
There was an "incident within an incident" in the fire near Pine Flat Road as well, CalFire incident commander Chief Mike Parkes said. The size and scope is under investigation and no speculations were made as to the cause.
In the incident within an incident, at approximately 6:20 p.m. Oct. 25, a firefighter assigned to the Kincade Fire was involved in a fire shelter deployment while attempting to get civilians to safety, according to a CalFire release.
While working on an active portion of the fire, the firefighter came into contact with two civilians who were attempting to evacuate the area when the fire intensified.
At that point the firefighter deployed his fire shelter and shielded them from the flames.
The three were transported by ground ambulance to an area hospital. All injuries appear to be non-life threatening and everyone is expected to survive.
The fire was overall active today, according to CalFire. The fire today behaved as a "topography driven fire," Parkes said, explaining the fire moved along the slopes of the landscape. This is in contrast to how the fire behaved first, as a wind-driven event.
There is no projection as to when the fire will be contained.
Tactics for the weekend could be to provide a "triage" if the wind picks up to dangerous levels. Priorities will be for the lives of all individuals including firefighters, then property. More aggressive firefighting tactics such as bulldozing and ground crews would be ineffective. Weather officials have forecast a strong wind event will begin Saturday, Oct. 26.
Residents were urged to be considerate of their actions while the red flag warning is in effect and remain fire safe. Parkes also urged people to evacuate when ordered, saying "early evacuations save lives."
No new evacuations were announced at the conference. All evacuations to date are still in place.
Sheriff Mark Essick said a few incidents, possibly frustration driven, occurred approaching check points law enforcement have at evacuation areas.
Essick said there were no reports of looting at this point. No fatalities or missing persons were reported to the Sheriff, either.
Parkes also said that though it may not be apparent, they have aircraft monitoring the fire all day. Weather can affect how many drops are made at the fire, as high winds can make flying dangerous as well as make retardant ineffective. Smoke and visibility can also play roles.
Update: Oct. 25, 7:35 a.m. — New numbers out from CalFire this morning. The Kincade fire outside of Geyserville is now 21,900 acres and 5% contained.
Update: Oct. 24, 7 p.m. — At a press conference at the Cal Fire Healdsburg Station overlooking Geyserville and Alexander Valley, local fire and sheriff’s office officials provided an update on the Kincade Fire and the battle to contain it.
The fire, which started in the hills northeast of Geyserville, has devoured 16,000 acres, driven by gusty winds that early Thursday morning reached 60 miles per hour.
According to CalFire Incident Commander Mike Parkes of the Sonoma Lake Unit, the fire is 5% contained. There are 1,300 firefighters battling the blaze and another 650 are expected to arrive tomorrow.
Parkes said that 49 structures have been destroyed, but there have been no fatalities.
Though firefighting aircraft will suspend flights during the night, firefighting efforts on the ground will continue at full force, Parkes said.
“We’re in a race against time,” he said, noting that windier, drier weather is expected over the weekend.
Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said that he had 50 deputies working during the day to help people evacuate and will have 26 deputies on watch over the night. He said there have been no reports of looting. He reiterated that there had been no fatalities, adding that there were also no reports of missing persons.
The mandatory evacuation orders from earlier in the day remain intact, including the town of Geyserville and the countryside east of Geyserville, including Cloverdale Geysers Road, Geysers Road, Red Winery Road, Alexander Mountain Road, Pine Flat Road and all roads east of Highway 128 to Geyserville.
Update: Oct. 24, noon. The Kincade Fire that started Wednesday night, Oct. 23, is still at 0% containment and is expected to grow, CalFire officials said during an Oct. 24 noon press conference held at the CalFire Healdsburg Station, located between Geyserville and Healdsburg.
Officials said 500 fire personnel from agencies across Northern California are on the scene fighting the fire.
Incident Commander for CalFire Mike Parkes of the Sonoma Lake Unit provided an update on the fire and on progress towards containing the blaze.
Parkes said the fire will likely be at or above 10,000 acres.
“The acreage will adjust later on as we get better eyes throughout the day and have a better opportunity to map it, but the rugged terrain and the darkness last night made it tough to get a good actual picture on the amount of acreage,” he said.
Some structures have been destroyed, however Parkes said they could not confirm the number of lost structures.
“We do not have an actual count on them. We have teams out in the field now surveying those structures to determine whether they were residences or general outbuildings,” Parkes said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to Parkes.
“About 9:47 p.m. last night, resources were dispatched to a vegetation fire near the area of the geyser geothermal plants …. First arriving resources arriving on scene found a couple hundred acres with a wide spread fire moving in multiple directions,” Parkes said. “We had additional helicopters on, additional personnel, additional engines.”
He said the fire was fueled by 60 mph winds in rugged terrain which made for difficult firefighting conditions. Between 5 and 5:30 a.m., winds pushed the fire toward Geyserville.
During the press conference Parkes said a larger air tanker from Southern California was on its way to the fire lines.
Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said the sheriff’s office currently has around 100 personnel assisting with the fire, working to ensure that the evacuation area is clear.
He said the evacuation area covers approximately 2,000 people in the Geyserville area and in the hills east of Geyserville.
“We’re asking people to please heed our evacuation order. We’d like you to get out of the area so that public safety and fire can fight fires and maintain control of the area. I know that many people feel better prepared than they were two years ago … but this is not the time to stay; this is the time to go,” Essick said.
Deputies are holding evacuation lines, and once residents leave they will not be allowed back in.
There is still an evacuation warning for the northern unincorporated area of Healdsburg.
“That means we want you to prepare to leave. We want you to gather your belongings and be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice,” Essick said. “The last thing I want to stress is to take care of each other. We want you to check on your neighbors, particularly if they are elderly. Neighbors helping neighbors is really what makes a difference in Sonoma County.”
California Highway Patrol Capt. Aristotle Wolfe for the Santa Rosa area said the CHP’s main role in the event is monitoring and maintaining road closures.
Wolfe said road closures are at Highway 128 at Alexander Valley Road and Lytton Springs, and the east side of Highway 128 is closed.
He said if the need to close U.S. 101 arises, they have contingencies on hand to deal with the closure.
“We are prepared to close U.S. 101 if that would be necessary; however there is absolutely no indication at this time that we are going to need to do it, but we want to be ready,” Wolfe said.
He also reminded motorists to stay calm when behind the wheel.
“This is a trying time for everyone, a particularly emotional time for Sonoma County as our memory has not faded from the last fire. People are particularly irritable behind the wheel of their car to get where they are going without delay, but this is not the time for that. This is the time for Sonoma to be strong as we have in the past and pull together. If you are delayed, it is probably for a reason,” Wolfe said.
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chairperson David Rabbitt said his thoughts are with the residents of the affected area as well as with the county.
Rabbitt said, “There is still a lot of trauma in Sonoma County from the fires of two years ago, and waking up to a day like today brings back a lot of memories. We also want to say thank you to our first responders.”
Another full update is expected at 7 p.m.