Editor’s note: People around the region are reporting slowed internet and cell service. We don’t know the exact cause, but to compensate we will be publishing without picture or video to use less data. Usually in emergency situations we like to show you lots of pictures, but we hope this tactic will help get news to you.
UPDATE 10/28/19 — Here’s our latest from today:
UPDATE 10:10 p.m. — According to Cal Fire’s evening update the Kincade Fire grew by more than 20,000 acres today in a sweeping push south towards Windsor, but firefighters managed to stop the fire from entering the city. The fire now stands at 54,298 acres, with 5% containment, a decrease in containment percentage due to the dramatic growth in the size of the fire. U.S. Route 101 remains closed through the fire area.
Ninety-four structures have been destroyed by the fire and 17 damaged, though nearly 80,000 structures remains threatened. And what stands between those structures and destruction are 3,441 firefighting personnel commanding a tremendous infrastructure of engines, tenders, dozers, helicopters, prop-planes, water dropping jets and even the world’s only 747 supertanker. California has among the most advanced and well organized firefighting capacities in the world, and the fact that the fire has nonetheless continued to grow, nearly doubling in size, speaks to the destructive power of the winds and the dryness of the vegetation.
For the full report from Cal Fire follow this link. You can watch the evening press conference from Cal Fire here. We generally embed these reports, but in keeping with our attempt to keep our pages loading fast we’re linking instead.
There had been some reports that the southbound lanes of the 101 would be opened through the fire area, with State Senator Mike McGuire tweeting out that the opening would be happening sometime tonight — Google Maps is also showing the southbound lanes as open. However, as of about 10 p.m. tonight the California Highway Patrol was reporting that the freeway remains closed in the fire area, and that travel from Mendocino to Marin would not be possible along the 101.
It is estimated that nearly 160,000 people remain under evacuation, and a number of shelters have reached capacity or have been forced to evacuate since the fire began. For the latest shelter and evacuation information, check with the Sonoma County Emergency Preparedness and Information website or at the links listed in previous updates.
UPDATE 2:15 p.m. — A fire in Potter Valley has closed a portion of State Route 20 to the Lake County line and evacuations have begun — we’re updating here. PG&E has also announced a potential power shut-off event for 32 counties beginning on Tuesday — we’ll have more on that soon.
UPDATE 1:30 p.m. — Evacuation warnings have been issued for parts of northeastern Napa County, including Calistoga, indicating some movement of the Kincade Fire towards the east. An evacuation center has also been established in Napa County. The evacuation warning includes: “City of Calistoga and Napa County North of Diamond Mountain Road to Dunaweal Lane. East of the Sonoma County/Napa County Line. South of the Lake County/Napa County Line. West of Pickett Road,” which is considered “Zone 21.”
To view the most current Napa County Map, follow this link. It will have the most current information from Napa County. To view the most current Sonoma County Map, follow this link. If you want to receive email alerts from Cal Fire, copy this link.
An evacuation center has been set up at Napa Valley College, 2277 Napa Valley Highway, Napa Valley, CA.
Winds have been descreasing on the north coast, and the National Weather Service office in Eureka has downgraded the wind forecasts for portions of Humboldt, Trinity, and interior Mendocino counties until 5 p.m. today. Currently, there is no estimated time of power restoration for Mendocino.
Says NWS Eureka:
“Winds are decreasing across the region. Current winds gusts on ridgelines are primarily in the 35-45 mph range in SE Humboldt, S Trinity, and interior Mendocino. Because of this, we have cancelled the High Wind Warning early and replaced it with a Wind Advisory through 5 pm.”
UPDATE 11:47 a.m. — The 101 has been closed yet again due to a flare up in the Kincade Fire.
Also, PG&E is now warning of another wind storm and attendant power outage mid-week. It’s unclear how extensive these will be.
UPDATE 11:30 a.m. — The fire in Covelo has now reached six to seven acres, the aircraft were forced to leave due to high wind gusts, we’ll continue to update. It is being called the Twin Fire. It is being managed by Cal Fire incident although it is near public forest lands.
The fire at the Cold Creek Compost facility burned in a compost pile, it is contained but expected to continue throwing up smoke for a while. That fire is called the “Burris IC.”
The global supertanker has now arrived at the Kincade Fire, and more Cal Fire resources are on the way, although wind speeds remain higher than typical.
MENDOCINO Co., 10/27/19 — Driven by the intense winds that began picking up across the North Bay in the early hours of today, the Kincade Fire has reached 30,000 as of this morning, nearly 4,000 acres overnight, with official containment dropping slightly from 11% to 10%, as a result of the fires tremendous growth. The fire has burned additional structures but was held back from the cities of Windsor and Healdsburg, and did not jump U.S. Route 101 thanks to the heroic efforts of over 3,000 firefighters working through the night.
In Mendocino County two small fires have started. The first in Potter Valley appears to have begun in a large compost pile and was quickly contained, though fire crews remain on the scene, and it may be smoldering. The second is more worrisome, a currently four acre blaze burning to the northeast of Covelo. The fire had a couple aircraft devoted to it, but they have since been recalled and left the fire.
And of course the power remains shut off, we’ll be discussing all these things in this article.
Here’s what the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office has to say about it:
Late last night as the Kincade Fire’s behavior became unpredictable and wind speeds increased, officials expanded evacuation orders and warnings to much of Sonoma County in the early morning. Over 190,000 people have had to evacuated the area in what is the largest evacuation in the county’s history, and 31,175 structures are threatened, with 79 already destroyed and 14 damaged.
Here’s the current map of the evacuation orders and warnings in Sonoma County created by the County of Sonoma. It also shows planned power shut-offs areas, road closures, and other useful info. Estimates of between 90,000 and 150,000 people began evacuating the area late last night as county officials expanded warnings, included an immediate “get out” for Healdsburg and Windsor as the fire encroached the edges of those locales, and a number of established shelters for evacuees either had to be relocated due to increased threat of fire, or filled up, prompting the opening of additional shelters as far south as Petaluma and Marin (full list below).
U.S. 101 was also temporarily closed between Santa Rosa and Healdsburg, but was re-opened shortly before 9 a.m. this morning, though a number of road closures remain in effect. There are 3,081 personnel fighting the fire, with additional crews on the way, included 15 strike teams from Oregon.
Here’s the full morning report from Cal Fire (below), and here’s our coverage of the fire’s movements on Saturday. The agency held a press conference at 10 a.m. which you can see here:
Y en español:
As of about 8 a.m., in the Kincade Fire region, wind speeds have decreased since early Sunday morning, but scanner traffic indicates that the wind speeds may still be fast enough to make an aircraft operations on the fire difficult. With the shifting winds it also appears that the fire may be moving east towards Calistoga and St. Helena in Napa County. During the highest winds of the night, the fire was spotting potentially up to a mile ahead, causing new spot fires and concern as to whether the blaze would jump the Highway 101 or the Russian River. Cal Fire’s morning report summarizes the situation as such:
“Evacuation orders have been expanded, and residents are reminded to maintain good situational awareness and heed the direction of officials. High winds and low humidity continue to create critical fire weather conditions. The North side of the fire is burning in remote, steep terrain while Southern portions of the fire have begun to impact the Southern Alexander Valley. Firefighters will continue to mitigate structure threats and find opportunities construct control lines.”
Planned power shut-offs began yesterday afternoon, as PG&E provided a number of different schedules for de-energizing the lines in different areas, including issuing a delayed schedule, which it did not seem to keep, and a number of customers reported their power was shut-off earlier than expected.
The utility has so far not provided any additional update regarding when power might be restored, although previous forecasts had put the end of the weather event at Monday, some public officials also stated they expected power restoration to begin Sunday afternoon, though it’s unclear where that would happen. On the company’s seven day weather forecasting page, the two zones in Mendocino County are currently forecasted to be on shutdown “watch” through Monday, and then considered at an “elevated risk” — which is lower than the watch — throiugh Wednesday. PG&E is anticipating another wind event that may begin Tuesday, and depending on conditions between now and then, it is unclear whether the utility will re-energize the lines in regions where more fire risk events are predicted. The company has said they expect “widespread wind damage” across their system, which may delay restoration as well.
Currently, it seems that all PG&E customers in Mendocino have lost power. There are two resource centers set up by PG&E to provide power strips, wifi, water, port-a-potties, air conditioning, and more that will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the power shut-offs. In Mendocino there are two such resource centers, in Ukiah on 1775 North State Street and the Potter Valley Bible Church at 10151 Main Street, Potter Valley. The C.V. Starr Center and the Fort Bragg Police Station may also be open to provide charging capabilities for nearby residents but we have not confirmed this.
Ukiah Unified School District has announced that schools will be closed on Monday, and will be re-opened when power has been restored. Mendocino County Office of Education and local school districts will be announcing Monday closures on Facebook and on their websiteby Monday at 6:30 a.m.
Evacuation shelters: Santa Rosa Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Rd., Santa Rosa, CA 95404. Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Bldg., 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95404. Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds, 175 Fairgrounds Rd., Petaluma, CA 94952. Petaluma Veterans Center, 1094 Petaluma Blvd., Petaluma, CA 94952. Large Animal Evacuation site: Santa Rosa Fairgrounds
PG&E October 27 weather forecast:
Sunday, October 27, 2019
NOTE: This forecast is based on weather conditions and fuel moisture content only and does not include other criteria used to determine whether a PSPS may be necessary.
A major and potentially historical offshore wind event is underway across northern California. Widespread impacts are expected as strong winds continue through the day and overnight into tomorrow morning. Evacuation orders are in effect for parts of Sonoma County due to possible spread of the Kincade fire currently burning east of Healdsburg. Please refer to https://socoemergency.org/home/emergency/evacuation-orders/ for more information. Unfortunately, this system is right on the heels of a recent wind event and fuels are critically dry and receptive for fire. This wind event will not only be the strongest of the year so far, it will also likely be stronger than the October 2017 northern California fire event and has the potential and energy to be the strongest in years. Northern Operations Predictive services is projecting ”an unusually strong 99th percentile” event, and the National Weather Service Bay Area has stated ”this will be a long duration and potentially extreme/historic event across the North Bay”. PG&E Meteorology’s analyses of forecasted pressure gradients from the ECMWF weather model suggest a near 1 in 15 year return period event. Red Flag Warnings as well as Wind Warnings remain in effect for most areas north of a Santa Cruz to Yosemite line through tomorrow morning. In addition to the Diablo winds across the north, strong Santa Ana winds are expected to develop in southern California including the Tehachapis and southern Kern County this evening and continue into tomorrow. Red Flag Warnings have also been issued for most of southern California. Please refer to weather.gov, https://gacc.nifc.gov/oncc/, or https://gacc.nifc.gov/oscc/ for the latest updates from federal forecast agencies. As a result of the critical fire weather conditions, all but Zone 6 is in a PSPS Warning today and all Zones are either in a PSPS Warning or elevated PSPS status for tomorrow. Yet another offshore wind event is possible Tuesday into Wednesday across northern California and Wednesday into Thursday across southern California. Therefore, all but zones 6 and 7 are in Elevated PSPS status for that time frame. The PG&E Emergency Operations Center remains activated to monitor and prepare for the event.
Details: Northerly winds increased dramatically overnight and are currently gusting to 30-45 mph in and around the greater Bay Area as well as the Central Valley and northern Sierra foothills, with peak gusts in excess of 100 mph in the highest elevations. Winds will peak during the morning and afternoon hours, but remain breezy to gusty overnight and into tomorrow morning. Relative humidity has also plummeted into the 10-20% range and will continue to lower through the day with no significant recovery expected until tomorrow. This Diablo wind event will encompass most of the PG&E territory generally north of a Santa Cruz to Yosemite line and widespread wind damage is anticipated. Santa Ana winds are also expected to develop across southern CA including the Tehachapis and into southern San Joaquin Valley later today into tomorrow, with possible gusts to 50-60+ mph. Yet another offshore wind event is anticipated Tuesday into Wednesday across northern California and Wednesday into Thursday across southern California including southern Kern County. Although not as strong as the current event, wind gusts in the 40-50 mph range are possible across the northern areas and conditions continue to be monitored closely. Dead fuel moistures are near historical low values and live fuel moisture remains at or below critical values, making them highly susceptible to ignition and explosive fire spread.