Recent Northern California wildfires — the “worst fire disaster in California’s history” according to FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency — have dominated the news this past week. Here’s a quick breakdown of what has been burning, with updates as of Thursday. The “October Fire Siege,” as Cal Fire has dubbed the event, has included 250 wildfires: “At the peak of the wildfires there were 21 major wildfires that, in total, have burned over 245,000 acres, 11,000 firefighters battled the destructive fires that at one time forced 100,000 to evacuate, destroyed an estimated 6,900 structures, and sadly, took the lives of 42 people.”
Air quality in and around Berkeley has been improving, but there are still local impacts. Currently there aren’t any “Spare the Air” notices for Thursday or Friday. Berkeley air quality is “moderate,” but it’s projected to be better Friday and Saturday. See the five-day air quality forecast. (The “Coast and Central Bay” section has the Berkeley numbers.)
A total of 30 people have been confirmed dead in fires up to the Geyserville area, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). There were 12 other deaths farther north, in Mendocino County and near Yuba City.
Cal Fire has reported that 107,407 acres have burned in Sonoma and Napa counties in the Tubbs, Pocket and Nuns fires; they are 80% contained as of Thursday. Twenty-four people have been confirmed dead: 23 civilians and one private water tender operator. Of the nearly 2,000 people reported missing, 53 were still unaccounted for as of Tuesday. Authorities say they expect to contain the fires by Tuesday, Oct. 24. The fires have destroyed 5,791 structures, and threaten 2,435 more. About 5,420 personnel have been fighting the fires. Some of the mandatory and advised evacuations were lifted Monday. Close to 60,000 people were evacuated, though most have been able to return home. Statewide, just over 15,000 people remain evacuated by the fires.
- Nuns, Adobe, Norbbom, Pressley and Partrick fires (Central LNU Complex, Sonoma County): 54,423 acres (34,398 in Sonoma and 20,025 in Napa), 82% contained. The location is listed as Highway 12 north of Glen Ellen. Conditions Nuns Fire (Sonoma): “Firefighters continued to actively monitor containment lines.” Nuns Fire (Napa): “Minimal fire activity, some smoldering. All activity confined to inside of the fire perimeter.” See the latest updates on the Cal Fire website.
- Tubbs fire (Central LNU Complex, Napa County): 36,432 acres, 92% containment. Conditions: “Minimal fire growth throughout the night; smoldering was contained to inside of the fire perimeter.” The location is listed as off of Highway 128 and Bennett Lane in Calistoga. Updates related to evacuation orders, water safety, shelters, volunteering and more are being posted on the Santa Rosa city website. Read more on the Cal Fire website.
- Pocket fire (Central LNU Complex, Sonoma County): 16,552 acres, 73% contained. The location is off of Pocket Ranch Road and Ridge Ranch Road in Geyserville. Conditions: “Minimal fire growth throughout the night.” See the latest updates on the Cal Fire website.
- Oakmont fire (Oakmont Fire (Central LNU Complex): 1,029 acres, 27% contained, as of Tuesday night. The location is east side of Highway 12 near the Oakmont community. As of Wednesday, this had been reclassified as part of the Nuns fire.
A list of mandatory and advised evacuations has been posted online. Sonoma County has also posted a real-time evacuation map. The cause of the fires, which began Sunday, Oct. 8, at 9:45 p.m., remains under investigation. Sonoma County is keeping an active list of evacuation centers. Many roads are still closed. On Saturday, Sonoma County and the city of Santa Rosa opened a “Local Assistance Center” in the Press Democrat building in downtown Santa Rosa, at 427 Mendocino Ave. It will remain open daily for at least two weeks from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sonoma County authorities say they will continue to use Nixle to get information out to the public.
Napa and Solano counties
- Atlas fire (Southern LNU Complex in Napa and Solano counties): 51,624 acres, 85% contained, as of Thursday. There have been six confirmed fatalities, 442 structures destroyed, and 876 structures threatened. This vegetation fire began Sunday, Oct. 8, at 9:52 p.m., and the cause is under investigation. There are 2,875 firefighters are fighting the blaze. Conditions: “Firefighters continue to strengthen perimeter control lines, provide structure defense and engage in tactical patrol. As some residents are allowed to return to their homes, please drive carefully as emergency personnel are still working throughout the fire area. CAL FIRE asks the public to never fly drones in the area of wildfires. Remember, If You Fly, We Can’t!” See the latest updates on the Cal Fire website. Charitable donation information has also been posted, along with the lifting of evacuation requirements.
- 37 fire (Sonoma County): To the south in Sonoma County, west of Skaggs Island and off Highway 37 and Lakeville Highway, the “37” fire burned 1,660 acres and is 100% contained.
Other fires farther north
- Up in Mendocino County, there are the Sulphur and Redwood fires. One firefighter was injured and eight people have been confirmed dead. The fires have burned 38,730 acres, and are 86% contained. Conditions: “Fire perimeter is holding, crews are improving direct and indirect containment lines, mopping up, as Fire Suppression Repair is underway. Please be aware of emergency equipment and personnel working in the area. Use caution when driving in and around these areas. As residents repopulate fire effected areas it is important to be aware of overhead tree hazards. Five years of drought, insect damage and recent fire damage have increasingly weakened trees and their branches.” Containment is expected Nov. 1. See the latest incident update, as of Thursday. A repopulation plan was posted Monday.
- East of Sulphur was the Long Fire, off Highway 20 and Long Valley Road. At 100 acres, it is fully contained, as of Monday.
- Lake County had the smaller Ridge fire. It was 100% contained at 87 acres.
- Another six fires were burning north and east of Yuba City: Honey and Cherokee; and La Porte, Cascade, Lobo and McCourtney (the Wind Complex). The Wind Complex burned 17,037 acres and is 100% contained. Four people were killed, one injured, and 398 structures destroyed. The latest incident update, was posted Wednesday morning.
- There were also two wildfires in the Eldorado National Forest: Table, which is nearly contained and not threatening any structures, and the Ice fire, which was contained Friday.
- Other fires have included the Fallon Fire in Alameda County (100% contained at 116 acres); the Bear Fire in Santa Cruz County (320 acres, 30% contained); the Wilson Fire in Los Angeles County (50 acres, 45% contained); and the Buffalo Fire in San Diego County (1,088 acres, 80% contained).