Northern California wildfires claim 31 lives and 137,000 acres

Tubbs Fire, Pocket Fire, Nuns Fire, Atlas Fire,

Above: map showing four of the larger wildfires north of San Francisco: Pocket Fire, Tubbs Fire, Nuns Fire, and Atlas Fire. They were mapped Thursday night between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. PDT.

(Originally published at 11:28 a.m. PDT October 13, 2017)

Calmer winds and higher humidity on Thursday slowed wildfires burning north of San Francisco in Sonoma and Napa Counties, allowing firefighters to make progress toward containment, but each of the large blazes still added thousands of acres to their footprints.

Statewide in California there are 17 active wildfires that have burned a total of 221,754 acres. Approximately 8,000 firefighters are battling the blazes and thousands of residents have evacuated. At least 3,500 homes have been destroyed this week according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The death toll has risen to 31 and many people are unaccounted for.

Here is a closer look at the four largest fires in Sonoma and Napa Counties, working north to south. The sizes were updated by mapping flights Thursday night and total about 137,000 acres:

  • The Pocket Fire northeast of Geyserville and southeast of Cloverdale has grown to 9,996 acres. It was most active on the southeast side Thursday.
  • The 34,617-acre Tubbs Fire has burned at least 2,800 homes and many commercial buildings in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. It did not expand much on Thursday, but was fairly active in some areas on the north and northeast sides. The fire is also burning in Napa County and is on both sides of Highways 128 and 101.
  • The Nuns Fire has merged with the Adobe and Norrbom Fires between Highways 116 and 121 — north, northwest, and east of Sonoma in both Napa and Sonoma Counties. The combined blaze now covers 44,381 acres. It was active on Friday northeast of the city of Sonoma and on the east flank in Napa County.
  • The Atlas Fire has burned 48,228 acres and is 17 miles long and about 6 miles wide. It is southeast, east, and north of Napa, primarily in Napa County.

The strong winds that have driven the fires decreased Friday, but Red Flag Warning conditions will return Friday night and Saturday with 20 to 30 mph northeast winds gusting at 40 to 50 mph. Isolated gusts up to 60 are possible on the highest ridges and peaks. The humidity will be in the teens during the day and between 25 and 35 percent at night.

The Red Flag Warning is in effect from 5 p.m. PDT Friday until 11 p.m. Saturday.

In the video below, Tanker 944, a 747, drops on the Pocket Fire.

Map Tubbs, Nuns Atlas Fires
Map of the Tubbs, Nuns, and Atlas Fires.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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