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Live updates: 17 dead in Wine Country fires; St. Helena residents warned


Updated 10:32 pm, Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Latest developments in the North Bay fires:

10:03 p.m. St. Helena warned: St. Helena city officials were encouraging residents to pack bags and get ready for possible evacuation after mandatory evacuations were ordered near Mt. Veeder, about 10 miles south of St. Helena, due to the Nuns Fire. St. Helena police, however, assured residents they are not under an evacuation order.

9:45 p.m. More Evacuations: Evacuations were conducted on Dry Creek Rd.in Napa County and the road is now closed from Orchard Ave to Oakville Grade. In addition, evacuations were conducted on Redwood Rd. and Redwood Rd. at the intersection of Browns Valley Rd. is now closed, the Napa County Sheriff reported.

8:57 p.m. Fairfield-Suisun schools closed: Superintendent Kris Corey said that all schools in the Fairfield-Suisun School district will be closed Wednesday. Employees will not report to work and all district sites will be closed to the public.


8:42 p.m. Atlas Fire 3% Contained: CalFire says the Atlas Fire has burned 26,000 acres, destroyed 125 structures and is now 3% contained. Five thousand structures remain threatened.

8:16 p.m. Eleven Shelters Full: Sonoma County authorities said 11 emergency shelters were now full but 25 still had space available, including two shelters that were accepting large pets. For information, click here.

7:40 p.m. Structures threatened: The Tubbs Fire is threatening more than 16,000 structures — on top of the nearly 600 structures that have been destroyed in the blaze already, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

7:10 p.m. New death toll: Two more fatalities were confirmed by the Sonoma County Coroner’s Office Tuesday night — bringing the total in the Northern California fire deaths to 17. Five people died in the Larkfield area, just north of Santa Rosa while another six died in city limits, according to sheriff officials.

6:55 p.m. The scene from Bennett Valley: As evacuation orders extended to parts of Bennett Valley, southeast of Santa Rosa, some evacuees stopped at the nearby golf course to watch the unrelenting smoke barrel from Annadel Heights Tuesday afternoon. An intense ring of fire could be at the peak of the mountain top, with new flare ups visible further down the mountain every few minutes.

Sean Coleman watched the hills burn, worried about what would happen once the sun set and the winds got worse.

Coleman and his fiancé were evacuated from central Santa Rosa Monday, and came to Bennett Valley Hills Tuesday to help police evacuate people from their homes.

“The winds will determine everything,” he said.

6:25 p.m. Solano County evacuations expand: Officials have issued a mandatory evacuation order for Gordon Valley, Williams, Lambert, and Clayton roads in Solano County on Tuesday night. “The fire has jumped to Wooden Valley Road and is moving southeast,” read a statement released by the Fairfield Police.

6:20 p.m.: Clarification on evacuations: The Larkfield area just north of Santa Rosa was evacuated on Sunday and continues to remain closed, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. The area had been reported incorrectly earlier by officials as being a new area for evacuations.

6:00 p.m.: Emergency declaration declared in Solano: Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Solano County because the Atlas Fire has damaged infrastructure and is threatening homes.

5:35 p.m. Santa Rosa danger: Fire is threatening the Annadel Heights area in eastern Santa Rosa. Residents in the area bordered on the north by Parktrail Drive and on the west by Summerfield Road should evacuate immediately, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office says.

5:20 p.m. Miscommunication on evacuations: The Pacific Heights area just north of Santa Rosa is not under evacuation, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. The initial evacuation order was a “miscommunication,” they said in a statement.

4:55 p.m.: Solano County evacuations: Officials report that the the Atlas Fire has crested the ridge at Twin Sisters Road in Solano County on Tuesday afternoon. Sheriff’s deputies are “going door-to-door on Twin Sisters Road, reverifying any remaining inhabitants and urging them to leave immediately.”

4:50 p.m.: More evacuations near Santa Rosa: Officials are evacuating an area called Pacific Heights just north of Santa Rosa. The latest evacuations are near where people were ordered to leave a short time ago near Shiloh Ranch Regional Park.

4:35 p.m. College closed: Sonoma State University has suspended classes for Wednesday because of the fires in the area. The school was closed both Monday and Tuesday.

4:30 p.m. Inmates fighting off blazes: More than 500 inmate firefighters are battling the wildfires in Northern California, officials said Tuesday. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports that another 300 inmate firefighters are hitting the blazes in Southern California on Tuesday.

4:20 p.m.: Fires near Santa Rosa: A fire is burning south of Shiloh Ranch Regional Park just north of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County sheriff’s officials say. People in the area of Faught and Montebello roads are being evacuated. Separately, evacuations also are under way near the Bennett Valley Golf Course southeast of Santa Rosa.

4:03 p.m. Wildfires labeled ‘worst fire disaster in California history’
: Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, surveyed Northern California’s decimated fire region on Monday. He said at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds Tuesday, “It’s devastating. I fully expect this will be the worst fire disaster in California history.”

3:52 p.m. First responders in Napa, Sonoma counties lose homes in wildfires: Mill Valley Fire Chief Tom Welch lost his home while working the wildfires, city officials said. In Sonoma County, at least 20 sheriff’s office employees lost their homes as well, authorities said.

3:30 p.m. School closures in Napa, Sonoma counties: All schools in the Napa Valley Unified School District will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, according to city officials. All schools in Sonoma Valley Unified School District will be closed for the rest of the week, district officials said. Classes at Sonoma State University have been suspended for Wednesday, while Santa Rosa Junior College will be closed through Sunday.

2:51 p.m. More than 180 people missing in Sonoma County: Fifty-seven out of 240 people reported missing in Sonoma County have been found, said Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano. Downed cell phone towers and more than 25 evacuation centers contributed to difficulties in finding loved ones, he said. Many people have been reported missing from nursing homes. A team of police officers will begin the mission to excavate bodies possibly buried in the charred rubble Tuesday evening, Giordano said.

2:30 p.m. Pelosi calls on Congress to provide aid: Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, called the Trump administration’s major disaster declaration for the California fires an “appreciated first step” but said Tuesday afternoon that more was needed. “Speaker (Paul) Ryan and Republicans must work with Democrats to update federal relief estimates and adjust the supplemental disaster package so that we can make available all necessary resources for those devastated by these wildfires,” she said in a statement.

2:28 p.m. Nuns Fire racing toward Oakmont in Santa Rosa: The Santa Rosa Police Department sent out an urgent tweet warning Tuesday afternoon of a fast-moving wildfire encroaching on the Oakmont senior living community on three sides. The Police Department tweeted, “#NunsFire is rapidly approaching Oakmont. Oakmont is still under mandatory evacuation – all residents must leave now!” Oakmont has been under mandatory evacuation since Monday.

2 p.m. Sonoma Raceway opens to evacuees: The Sonoma Raceway is welcoming wildfire evacuees to its 50-acre campground, officials announced. The campground, across from the raceway on Highway 121, will have basic services for recreational vehicles, including water and sewage. For more information contact the Sonoma Raceway at (800) 870-7223 or email sonomaraceway@sonomaraceway.com.

1:15 p.m. Sonoma County warns of criminal action against price gougers and looters: People are being asked to call 911 to report suspected looting. Any vendor offering products and services with more than a 10 percent markup is breaking the law and should be reported to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.

“Please be advised that any looters who are apprehended will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” District Attorney Jill Ravitch said in a statement.

Santa Rosa has issued a curfew from 6:45 p.m. until 7:15 a.m. in the mandatory evacuation area. Breaking curfew is a misdemeanor, officials said.

1 p.m. Tens of thousands without power in Sonoma County: Pacific Gas and Electric Company is working to restore power to 50,260 customers impacted by the wildfires in Sonoma County. About 28,000 customers are without gas service in Santa Rosa, Windsor, Yountville, Napa, and Kenwood, according to Shirlee Zane, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

12:18 p.m.: High-wind warning: The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning for Wednesday night and Thursday for hills in the North Bay and East Bay, predicting northeast winds of up to 30 mph and gusts of 45 mph. The warning starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the North Bay hills and 11 p.m. in the East Bay hills, and runs through 5 p.m. Thursday. High winds contributed to the explosive spread of fires throughout the North Bay on Sunday night and Monday.

12:08 p.m. Thousands remain in shelters in Napa and Sonoma counties: More than 3,000 people remain in shelters
as 17 wildfires have burned through 115,000 acres across California. Wildfires statewide have left at least 2,000 structures destroyed, officials announced at a California Office of Emergency Services press conference.

12 p.m. Wildfire death toll reaches 15: Two more fatalities have been confirmed by Sonoma County sheriff’s officials
, marking nine deaths in Sonoma County. Northern California fires have now killed 15 people, including two in Napa County, three in Mendocino County and one in Yuba County. More than 200 people had been reported missing in Sonoma County, and 45 of those people have been found, officials said.

11:45 a.m. Santa Rosa smolders: Along Highway 101 through Santa Rosa, visibility for drivers extended no more than 300 yards and traffic was stop and go in both directions Tuesday morning.

The sun was nearly blotted out by a sky filled with gray ash and smoke. Skeletons of trees, gutted buildings and burned-out cars lined roadways. Occasional flames burned on wooden structures holding up highway guardrails. Fields, lawns, a pizza joint and grocery store that were fully engulfed in flames Monday continued to smolder Tuesday.

Frustrated residents were trying to find any exit that wasn’t closed down to get off the highway and find a backroad home to survey the damage. Police weren’t letting them, for the most part.

11:17 a.m. Authorities seek suspicious person in small San Rafael vegetation fire: A man was seen running from the scene of a vegetation fire that broke out Tuesday morning in San Rafael, according to the city fire department. The fire burned less than an acre and was quickly contained. Fire officials ask that anyone with information on the man call 911.

11 a.m. Nearly half of downed cell sites restored: Seventy-seven cell sites were down from loss of power or fire damage, and 35 are running again, according to State Senator Mike McGuire. Tens of thousands of customers remain without cell phone service in the fire zones in Napa and Sonoma counties, he said.

10:25 a.m. Vice President Mike Pence pledges aid in the North Bay wildfires: “To California, we say though this declaration, we are with you, our prayers are with you and we will be with you every day until we put the fires out,” Pence said.

President Trump approved the major disaster declaration, which will give California additional federal resources and funding to fight fires up and down the state. Pence said legislation that will be considered in Congress next week includes $576 million for fire suppression.

10:12 a.m. Agencies protect homes from looting: The California National Guard is working to protect property in the wild fires. Mendocino County reported at least one looter was arrested in the fire area on Monday.

9:29 a.m. Mendocino death toll rises: The number of people killed in a wildfire in the Mendocino County town of Redwood Valley now stands at three. Cal Fire officials said the victims died when the Redwood Complex Fire tore through the town of 2,000 people Sunday night and Monday. Their names have not been released. Four more people suffered major burn injuries, and about two dozen others suffered lesser burn injuries, Cal Fire said. Roughly 50 homes were destroyed in the town, located 8 miles north of Ukiah on Highway 101.

9:17 a.m. Couple identified as Napa victims: Charles and Sarah Rippey were identified as victims from the wildfires in Napa, county sheriff John Robertson said. Charles was 100 years old and his wife was 98.

The couple died while trying to escape their home in the 100 block of Westgate Circle in Santa Rosa, Robertson said.

9 a.m. Small vegetation fire in San Rafael: A vegetation fire less than one acre large started off Professional Center Parkway. Firefighters stopped forward progress. No damage or injuries have been reported, according to fire officials.

8:45 a.m. Napa County cell service limited: With spotty service affecting thousands of cell phone users in Napa County, the sheriff’s department announced a website for people to go on and post they are safe.

With dozens of people still missing from the fires ravaging Napa and Sonoma counties, residents with cell reception problems are encouraged to log on to safeandwell.org and register their names.

8 a.m. Cascade Fire in Yuba County spreads: The deadly Cascade Fire has reached 11,500 acres, a growth of more than 3,000 acres overnight, officials said Tuesday.

It was 15 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. The blaze killed vehicle fleeing from the town of Loma Rica.

7:42 a.m. Dozens reported missing in Sonoma County: Roughly 150 people have been reported missing as a result of wild fires, said Sgt. Spencer Crum, a sheriff’s office spokesman.

7:32 a.m. Tubbs Fire grows: The Tubbs fire in Sonoma County is now at 27,000 acres, growing 2,000 acres overnight, according to Cal Fire.

7:01 a.m. Nuns fire spreads: Santa Rosa police announce the Nuns fire is moving to the southwest corner of Oakmont.

7 a.m. School closures stay in place: All schools in Napa and Sonoma counties remain closed Tuesday due to wildfires, district officials announced.

6 a.m. Death toll rises to 11: One person died early Monday morning trying to flee the Cascade Fire in Yuba County, county spokesman Russ Brown confirmed Tuesday.

The person, whose name was not immediately released, was in a vehicle fleeing from the town of Loma Rica, ran off a back-road and became trapped in the fire, Brown said.

Northern California fires have now killed 11 people, including seven in Sonoma County, two in Napa County and one in Mendocino County.

The Cascade fire is one of at least 15 blazes burning in Northern California. It has consumed 8,200 acres and was only 10 percent contained Tuesday morning.

5 a.m. Cooler temperatures, but fires rage: Cool overnight temperatures aided firefighters battling blazes in Napa and Sonoma counties, but the fires continued to rage out of control Tuesday morning.

High temperatures in the North Bay are forecast to be in the mid 70s to upper 70s, generally 5 to 10 degrees cooler than Monday, said Charles Bell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

At least eight fires were burning across Northern California Tuesday with little to no containment, officials said. The fires have killed at least 10 people, including seven in Sonoma County, two in Napa County and one in Mendocino County.

1:33 a.m. Santa Rosa water alert: Santa Rosa Fire Department officials are advising residents of the Fountaingrove neighborhood to boil their water to ensure it is safe to drink — if they have low or no water pressure.

Chronicle staff writers Kimberly Veklerov, Melody Gutierrez, Marissa Lang, Michael Cabanatuan and Annie Ma contributed to this report.

Click here for previous updates from the Wine Country fire coverage


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