Above: Some of the firefighters that have been working on the Tubbs and Nuns Fires for the last week. Photo by Twitter user @WineMeAway.
(Originally published at 10:47 a.m. PDT October 18, 2017)
On Tuesday there was minimal activity on two of the four large fires in Napa and Sonoma Counties north of San Francisco, the Atlas and Tubbs Fires.
There has been major progress on the Nuns and Pocket Fires but there is still open line on those two blazes where firefighters are conducting fairly large burn out operations to remove fuel between the lines and the active edge of the fires.
Mandatory evacuations and road closures are still in effect in many areas.
The total size of the Nuns, Pocket, and Tubbs Fires in Sonoma and Napa Counties has risen to 103,285 acres. At least 5,017 structures have been destroyed. There have been 41 fatalities on the Northern California fires since the siege began October 8.
The resources assigned include 579 engines, 60 water tenders, 32 helicopters, 10 air tankers, 101 hand crews, and 95 dozers, for a total of 5,274 personnel.
Bill Gabbert sat down with Brendon McDonough and Miles Teller the day of the red carpet screening in Phoenix of “Only the Brave”, which is about the Granite Mountain Hotshots. In 2013, 19 members of the crew perished in the Yarnell Hill Fire south of Prescott, Arizona.
Mr. McDonough was the only member of the 20-person crew to survive. Miles Teller played him in the movie.
There is no doubt that after numerous wildfires started Sunday night October 8 north of San Francisco the very strong winds caused them to spread so rapidly that there is no way firefighters could put them out before they grew large. There are reports that the Tubbs Fire between Santa Rosa and Napa burned about 20,000 acres in a few hours.
Many power lines blew down or sparked as electrical conductors brushed together in Sonoma and Napa Counties.
Emergency dispatchers in Sonoma County received multiple calls of power lines falling down and electrical transformers exploding. In all, according to a review of emergency radio traffic by the Bay Area News Group, Sonoma County dispatchers sent out fire crews to at least 10 different locations across the county over a 90-minute period starting at 9:22 pm to respond to 911 calls and other reports of sparking wires and problems with the county’s electrical system amid high winds.
Officials have not released the causes of most of the fires, but the stock price of Pacific Gas and Electric which supplies electrical power to much of the area dropped 22 percent last week.
On Monday the Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog, an excellent source for in-depth analysis of weather events, looked at the conditions that led to the extreme winds when the fires started. Here is an excerpt:
…Although there have been a lot of media reports about windy conditions, few have described the extreme, often unprecedented, nature of the winds on Sunday night and Monday morning (October 8/9th). Some have even mocked PG&Es claims of hurricane-force winds, suggesting wind speeds of 30-40 mph.
Let’s clarify a few things. There was a wide range of winds that night, with the strongest winds on ridge tops and on the upper lee slopes of terrain. Some winds was startling.
For example, at 10:30 PM on 9 Oct 2017 the wind gusted to 96 mph on a 3400 foot peak NE of Geyersville, about 20 miles NNW of downtown Santa Rosa. They reported sustained 74 knots (85 mph). Those are hurricane force winds (sustained of 64 knots or more).
At the Santa Rosa RAWS station (U.S Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management) at 576 ft elevation, the wind accelerated rapidly Sunday night to 68 mph.
San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) is still battling over who will pay for the destruction, the company or their customers, caused by the Witch Creek, Guejito, and Rice Canyon fires in 2007 that started from issues with their power lines. The fires destroyed more than 1,300 homes in southern California, killed two people, and caused massive evacuations. The Witch Creek Fire alone, which started near Santa Ysabel, burned 197,990 acres.
An engine crew from the Berkeley Fire Department shot video as they arrived at the Tubbs Fire which had already burned into Santa Rosa destroying hundreds of homes. They were part of a five-engine strike team that had been told to stage at a K-Mart parking lot but when they arrived the store was engulfed in flames.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to David. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
Bill Gabbert sat down with James Badge Dale the day of the red carpet screening in Phoenix of “Only the Brave”, which is about the Granite Mountain Hotshots. In 2013, 19 members of the crew perished in the Yarnell Hill Fire south of Prescott, Arizona.
Mr. Dale played Jesse James Steed, the second in command on the crew.