North Bay Fires Threaten Napa Valley Towns and Burn Into Santa Rosa

A building burns during the Glass fire in St. Helena, California on September 27, 2020. - The National Weather Service issued heat advisories and CalFire issued a Red Flag warning for high fire risk areas of California. A wildfire with a "dangerous rate of spread" broke out in Napa County between Calistoga and St. Helena overnight on September 27, 2020 just as the Bay Area braces for extreme wildfire conditions. (Josh Edelson/AFP/ via Getty Images)

Update, 7:40 a.m.: North Bay emergency officials say the series of fires burning from the hills on the northeast side of the Napa Valley and west to the eastern edge of the city of Santa Rosa have burned an estimated 11,000 acres.

Janet Upton, spokeswoman for the Napa County Office of Emergency Services, said that estimate was based on a 4 a.m. infrared reconnaissance flight over the fires. The blazes include the Glass Fire, which started at 3:50 a.m. Sunday near the Deer Park community in the hills northeast of St. Helena, and the Shady and Boysen fires, which started on the west side of the Napa Valley just after sunset Sunday evening, then merged and burned southwest to Santa Rosa.

Photos before dawn Monday from Kent Porter, a veteran photographer for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, showed homes burning in the city's Oakmont and Skyhawk neighborhoods.

It was unclear as of 7:30 a.m. how many residences have been destroyed so far.

Update, 6:45 a.m. Monday: Sonoma County and the city of Santa Rosa have set up several emergency evacuation points for those forced from their homes by the Shady Fire:

  • Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma.
  • Petaluma Veterans Building, 1094 Petaluma Blvd. South, Petaluma.
  • Santa Rosa Veterans Building, 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa.
  • A Place to Play Park, 2375 W. 3rd St, Santa Rosa.
  • Sonoma Raceway, 29355 Arnold Drive, Sonoma.

Those needing to find space for large animals can go to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds at 1350 Bennett Valley Rd, Santa Rosa.

Napa County has opened an evacuation center at the Crosswalk Community Church at 2590 1st St., Napa.

Update, 1:35 a.m. Monday: Sonoma County officials have expanded evacuation orders and warnings on the eastern side of Santa Rosa as a wind-driven wildfire continues to advance on the city. (See: Sonoma County evacuation map).

Napa County authorities also expanded mandatory evacuation orders to the edge of Calistoga as the Glass Fire, which began in the predawn hours Sunday morning, continued to spread. (See: Napa County evacuation map.)

The evacuations came as Cal Fire crews assisted by dozens of mutual aid fire companies scrambled to save homes and rescue residents trapped by rapidly advancing flames. Late Sunday into early Monday, crews were fighting spot fires that had ignited on the floor of the Napa Valley near St. Helena, in one case rushing to try and save buildings at a winery less than half a mile from the headquarters of Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit.

In Santa Rosa, Highway 12 was jammed with thousands of people evacuating neighborhoods threatened by the fast-advancing Shady Fire. Cal Fire radio traffic at 1:30 a.m. Monday reported that the fire had jumped into Oakmont, one of the evacuated neighborhoods.

The fire was one of a pair that began about sunset Sunday evening, possibly sparked by embers blown across the Napa Valley from the Glass Fire. Then, in a close parallel to the 2017 Tubbs Fire, the blazes merged as they made a rapid run across the hills along the Napa-Sonoma county line on a southwestern trajectory toward Santa Rosa.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued before midnight Sunday for the following zones in and on the outskirts of Santa Rosa:

  • Calistoga North
  • Calistoga South/Skyhawk
  • Pythian
  • Melita
  • Stonebridge
  • Oakmont North
  • Oakmont South

Residents in several other areas north and east of the city were also under orders to evacuate. The area, stretching roughly from Mark West Springs Road in the north to near Hood Mountain Regional Park in the south, includes zones: 2P1, 3G1, 3G2 and 3G3.

Several other areas in and near Santa Rosa were under evacuation warnings — advisories that residents must prepare to leave — early Monday, including:

  • Northeast 2
  • Northeast 3/Middle Rincon
  • Springlake
  • Summerfield
  • Sonoma County zones 6A1, 6B1, 6B2


Also early Monday, Napa County authorities expanded mandatory evacuation orders near the Glass Fire.

Update, 10:45 p.m. Sunday: A fire that moved slowly but relentlessly through the hills on the east side of the Napa Valley near the town of St. Helena all day Sunday was joined during the evening by two more blazes that were whipped by high winds across the mountain ridges on the west side of the valley into Sonoma County and toward the city of Santa Rosa.

The Glass Fire started near the community of Deer Park just before 4 a.m. Sunday and prompted an all-out effort by Cal Fire's Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit to rein it in as it edged toward St. Helena and posed a threat to the nearby towns of Angwin and Calistoga. The blaze had burned about 2,500 acres by nightfall and was 0% contained.

But just after sunset Sunday, with a gusty, bone-dry northeasterly wind blowing across the higher ridges in the area, a pair of fires ignited all the way across the valley to the west. Dubbed the Shady Fire and Boysen Fire, they quickly blew into a major conflagration that burned rapidly to the south and west toward Santa Rosa.

Napa County issued new evacuation orders for the Spring Mountain Road and St. Helena Road areas west of Highway 29 (see Napa County evacuation map). Sonoma County ordered evacuations in a rural area in the hills north of Santa Rosa and warnings — for those living south to Highway 12 near the community of Kenwood, southeast of Santa Rosa (see Sonoma County evacuation map).

There were no immediate acreage estimates on the Shady and Boysen fires.

Original post:

The Glass Fire in Napa County has grown to 2,500 acres with no containment, according to Cal Fire.

Air tankers and mutual aid fire crews from jurisdictions around the region rushed to fight the blaze that broke out at 3:50 a.m. Sunday near the hillside community of Deer Park. Roughly 865 fire personnel and 80 fire engines are fighting Glass Fire, with 2,268 structures threatened and none reported as destroyed as of Sunday night.

Evacuations are underway in areas throughout Napa County. No deaths were reported in Glass Fire as of 7 p.m.

“The weather is predicted to be unseasonably warm — warmer than average this weekend,” said Christine McMorrow with Cal Fire. Hot, dry weather, with low humidity, has prompted a Red Flag Warning, she said, “that's definitely a concern." McMorrow also reminded people to heed evacuation orders and ensure they are ready to go.

Officials at a hospital in St. Helena said they are evacuating all patients out of an abundance of caution. Adventist Health St. Helena hospital spokeswoman Linda Williams says a total of 55 patients — including a number in the intensive care — are being transferred throughout the region.

Williams said that they are, unfortunately, experienced at this. “We have a team that everything comes together quickly,” she said, and “everyone is assigned to a specific task.”

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The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and San Ramon Valley Fire Department are sending an ambulance strike team to help with hospital evacuations and are dispatching other equipment as well. Fire units are also on their way from Richmond and the Rodeo-Hercules Fire District.

Mandatory evacuations and warnings have been issued for the east side of Silverado Trail from Deer Park Road to Meadow Road, and the entirety of roads in between, including Meadowood Resort. Evacuation orders have also been issued for Crystal Springs Road, North Fork Crystal Springs, College Avenue at Howell Mountain Road to White Cottage Road, all of Freisen Drive, and all of Lommel Road.

Angwin, CA resident Jay Lewis said this is the second time he and his wife had to leave their home of 34-years under threat from wildfires.

"At about 5:30 this morning the lights went out, I woke and looked outside, and there was a guy with a flashlight running up the drive and beating on my door. He says 'you need to evaluate immediately, there's a fire at the hospital,'" Lewis said.

The last time they were evacuated was a month ago. "So it gets pretty old," he said.

Derrick Brown, an Angwin resident since 2011, said he was awakened at 5 a.m. by signs of the fire.

"My wife ran through the house saying, 'There's something wrong' because all the lights was off. We went outside and there's cars zooming down the road. And then when you look to the right of our house, you can see the glow from the fire. That's when we found out," Brown said.

Brown, his wife, two kids and their dog evacuated. When he spoke to KQED, he was still wearing his pajamas. He said they've been evacuated four or five times just this summer.

He says his family is "absolutely" looking to move. When PG&E shuts off the power in anticipation of wildfires, it deprives them of internet, making it difficult for his family to get wildfire updates because cell phone reception is poor in Angwin.

"People that live in rural areas like Angwin kind of rely" on their power and internet, he said.

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Officials are asking those leaving not to stop or park in turnouts to view the fire, saying the spaces are needed for emergency vehicles.

Napa County officials said a center to assist those evacuating from the rapidly spreading Glass Fire near St. Helena and the community of Deer Park has opened Sunday morning at Crosswalk Community Church at 2590 First St. in Napa. Those using the center are reminded to use a face covering and to observe other COVID-19 protocols, officials said.

The cause of the fire, which started before 5 a.m. near the 200 block of North Fork Crystal Springs Road in Deer Park, is under investigation.

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KQED's Dan Brekke, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez and Lakshmi Sarah contributed to this story.

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