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  • OTRI.USA
    28.180
    -0.280
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  • OTVI.USA
    12,761.130
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  • TLT.USA
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InsightsNewsWeather and Critical Events

Roads closed, buildings destroyed as California wildfires continue burning (with forecast video)

Wildfires are still burning out of control in many areas of California

The Glass Fire in northern California — the latest one to spark in the state — has quickly spread across more than 36,000 acres just east of Santa Rosa.

New evacuation orders were issued Sunday night for an area straddling the Napa-Sonoma County border northeast of Santa Rosa as two new fires — the Shady Fire and the Boysen — started near the Glass Fire. The entire city of Calistoga is under an evacuation advisory and residents should be prepared to leave if necessary. The evacuation orders affect more than 1.300 homes and more than 3,400 of people, according to Napa County emergency management officials.

The Glass Fire began about 4 a.m. Sunday in Deer Park, near the intersection of North Fork Crystal Springs and Crystal Springs roads. It has been spreading at a “dangerous rate of speed,” the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) said in its latest update Monday.

The Shady and Boysen fires started just west of St. Helena and are believed to be offshoots of the Glass Fire.

Sunday night, the Shady Fire crept toward Santa Rosa and several homes have burned in the city’s Skyhawk subdivision. So far, nobody has reported injuries. Evacuation centers have been set up in the cities of Santa Rosa, Napa, Petaluma and Sonoma.

Road closures

Caltrans showed no regional fire-related closures on U.S. Highway 101, which runs through Santa Rosa. However, Caltrans did shut down sections of state highways 12 and 29 for a period of time Monday. They have been reopened as evacuation routes, but may be closed again sometime Tuesday.

Evacuations

First responders from the Contra Costa Fire Protection District, San Ramon Valley Fire Department and San Francisco Fire Department went to Napa County to help with the evacuation of the St. Helena hospital. Contra Costa Fire says it sent an ambulance strike team to the area. A total of 55 patients have been safely evacuated, a hospital representative told KGO-TV. San Francisco is also sending several crews to the area.

Pam McGivern, a St. Helena resident, told KGO-TV the fire is just a few miles away from her home and said it’s “frightening.” She says she was alerted by her neighbor about the fire and plans to evacuate soon. McGivern added that she’s heard several propane tank explosions, and multiple homes in the area are actively burning.

Devastation

Local businesses will be closed as people evacuate the region, and the Glass Fire has already destroyed a famed Napa Valley winery.

Chateau Boswell, a 40-year-old family-run winery near St Helena, was on fire Sunday night. Firefighters desperately tried to put out the fire, including CAL FIRE using a DC10 plane capable of dropping almost 10,000 gallons of retardant in eight seconds on each pass. Unfortunately, the fire won the battle.

Power outages

Pacific Gas and Electric (NYSE: PCG) is reporting thousands of power outages in the Glass Fire region. High winds, extremely dry conditions and unseasonably warm weather will continue to create high fire danger. The red flag warning that began over the weekend remained in effect until 9 p.m. PT Monday.

Northern California is under a severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Areas near the Oregon border are doing worse, going through an extreme drought. This region has been in a drought almost all year.

CAL FIRE officials do not know how the fire started. But once it sparked under hot, dry weather conditions, strong winds made it difficult to contain. Winds will be less of an issue Tuesday, and the National Weather Service has canceled red flag warnings in the area. This gives firefighters a little hope that they can begin getting the Glass Fire under control.

Other road closures

A large section of California Route 36 is closed west of Red Bluff due to the Zogg Fire. A long stretch of state Highway 70 is closed between Butte Valley and Indian Falls due to the North Complex Fire.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his nearly 20 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.
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