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Homes Burning in California, Tens of Thousands Flee Rapidly Growing Wildfires Overnight

Published in 28 September, 2020

At a Glance

  • Two fast-growing fires broke out Sunday night in Sonoma County.

  • Firefighters continued to battle the growing Glass Fire in Napa County.

  • The Glass Fire has destroyed at least one winery.

  • The town of Paradise, destroyed by the Camp Fire in 2018, is threatened again.

About 4,500 residents of a senior living community were among thousands of Californians Monday driven from their homes by wildfires that exploded in size.

City buses from Santa Rosa, California, arrived at Oakmont Village about 1 a.m. Monday PDT to take the residents to safety, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Many of them were in their pajamas and robes as they shuffled toward the buses under a glowing orange sky amid falling ash.

“It was scary and I didn’t expect it to be so close,” Doris Tietze, 91, an Oakmont resident, told the Chronicle as embers hit the bus’ windshield.

They joined more than 6,800 other residents of Santa Rosa and surrounding unincorporated areas ordered to flee that blaze known as the Shady Fire.

The Shady Fire burning west of the city has already destroyed at least half a dozen homes, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reported. Homes were burning in the Skyhawk neighborhood in eastern Santa Rosa, the Chronicle said.

“We have way more homes to protect than engines to protect them,” Sonoma County Fire District Chief Mark Heine told the newspaper.

A second blaze in Sonoma County, the Boysen Fire, was burning just west of St. Helena, and it also forced officials to order evacuations. As the fires grew, officials closed two evacuation centers in Santa Rosa and opened others in Petaluma, the Press-Democrat reported.

Roadways clogged with traffic as people tried to reach a safe location.

The two fires began as firefighters continued to battle the Glass Fire, which was burning north of St. Helena to the east of Calistoga in Napa County. Heine said the two new fires may have been started by embers from the Glass Fire, which had grown to almost 4 square miles early Monday.

Napa County officials early Sunday had ordered thousands of residents to leave their homes. The Glass Fire also forced Adventist Health St. Helena to suspend hospital and emergency care and to transfer about 50 patients to other facilities. New evacuations continued to be ordered Monday morning as the fire spread and residents of Calistoga were warned to be ready to evacuate.

The area is home to more than five dozen wineries. Photos showed the Chateau Boswell Winery engulfed in flames.

The area, like much of Northern California, is under a red flag fire warning until Monday night because of weather conditions that include gusty winds, low humidity and high temperatures.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said more than 14,000 homes and businesses in Santa Rosa lost power, likely because of the fires. In Napa County, according to PG&E, at least 3,000 customers had no power because of the Glass Fire.

Zogg Fire
Strong winds caused a fire that began about 3 p.m. Sunday in Shasta County to spread quickly over more than 10 square miles.

The Zogg Fire in Igo, about 10 miles southwest of Redding, forced evacuations in Shasta County, and officials warned evacuations might be necessary in Trinity County.

Photos and videos on Twitter showed several homes burning along Platina Road in Igo and Ono.

Paradise Threatened Again
About 100 miles to the northeast of Napa, the town of Paradise and the nearby Magalia community were issued an evacuation warning, and the town of Concow was ordered to evacuate as the North Complex wildfire picked up again because of fast winds. Those three places were ravaged by the November 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history.

The North Complex Fire, which started on Aug. 18, has burned more than 546 square miles and is 78% contained, according to Cal Fire.

California firefighters are battling at least 25 major wildfires across the state.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 8,000 wildfires have burned well over 5,625 square miles. Since August 15, the fires have killed 26 people and destroyed more than 7,000 structures.

Some of the heaviest so far has fallen in southern parts of the Houston metro. Rainfall totals of 6 to 11 inches have been measured in this area in the 24 hours ending 8 a.m. CDT Tuesday. Several locations in the south Houston metro area are seeing road flooding this morning and travel should be avoided. NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center has issued a high risk of excessive rainfall and flooding for Tuesday on the upper Texas coast, including Houston. This means there could be more significant flash flooding from heavy rainfall in this area today.

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