The north side of the Glass Fire is still active

October 4, 2020   |   7:35 a.m.

Map of the Glass Fire
Map of the Glass Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 12:01 a.m. PDT Oct. 4, 2020. The white line was the perimeter three days before. Previous fires are shown in green.

In the eight days the Glass Fire has been burning in the Napa Vally area of northern California it has destroyed 297 residences, 273 commercial structures, and burned 63,885 acres according to CAL FIRE. An additional 18,000 structures are threatened as the portion of the fire east of Highway 128 continues to spread north.

West of Highway 128 the fire has not spread into the footprint of the 2017 Tubbs Fire north of Santa Rosa, but north of Kenwood between Highways 12 and 128 it grew for one to two miles into the Nuns Fire of 2017 but has not moved much in that area in the last three days.

East of Highways 128 and 29, a portion of the Glass Fire reached the LNU Lightning Complex that burned 46,000 acres a few weeks ago, but it is still spreading in an area north of Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, five miles north of Calistoga, and 6 miles south of Middletown. The fire was not very active directly west of Pope Valley Saturday.

Resources assigned to the fire include 23 helicopters, 408 fire engines, 66 dozers, 27 hand crews, and 49 water tenders for a total of 2,773 personnel.

The first part of the video below shows a dozer line or road on the edge of the Glass Fire. Then you will see where red retardant dropped by air tankers has slowed the advance of the fire. When it can be done safely, firefighters on the ground or on dozers will need to construct a bare-earth fireline where the fire has burned into or through the retardant. Aircraft dropping water or retardant do not put out a fire, they can only slow the spread, and only if the wind is not very strong.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

3 thoughts on “The north side of the Glass Fire is still active”

  1. While I’m familiar enough to know the north end of the fire where Hwy 29 zigzags up to a summit of Hwy 29 and then descends through mostly tree cover of conifers and hardwoods towards Middletown, that this is an extemely challenging terrain to construct bulldozed lines in and a major challenge for hand crews since at the whim of a wind directional change, the fire can swiftly change direction and with wind behind it preheat vegetation up hill from the fire so it quickly catches fire sometimes before the flames actually reach the brush and trees.

    I wish there was a narrator to go with the excellent video to help us not intimeately familiar with every aspect of the north end of Napa Valley track what we werre observing. Great vide Sonomao though.

    Living on a 500 foot high ridge line 3 miles SW of downtown Sebastopol from both my home and the 12-foot County road I can see from The Geysers south to the Southern End of Sonoma Mtn. when the skies are clear. Yesterday before sunrise I could observe mostly clear skies over Sonoma County, with the smoke from the north end just visible behind the ridgeline separating Napa and Sonoma counties from my perch on a high point of the County Road SW of Sebastopol. As the day, there was some smoke drift, and in late afternoon the smoke in the Santa Rosa Plain had significantly increased with a corresponding impact of visibility. The evening news confirmed my belief that the fire was continuing to find new fuel to burn at its northern end For a retired USFS employee for whom wildfire suppression fell under the “and other duties as assigned” final sentence of my job description, I’ve had the equivalent of my entire career’s worth of fire and smoke here in Sonoma County in the past 60 days. it’s getting old–very very old. While the area of western Sonoma Co. south of the Russian River has not actually had fire spread through our neighborhoods since the Fires of 2017, we have regularly experienced the smoke overhead and falling ash and were evacuated for 4 days last Fall. Meanwhile my son in Fresno, who has had asthma since his preteen years, struggles daily from smoke from the Creek Fire which has consumed over a third of the Sierra National Forest and from smaller wildfires from the adjacent national parks as well as larger ones north and south in the Sierra Nevada foothills and forests. My guess is that we are experiencing in 2020 what the folks in Idaho and Montana livied through in during the massive wildfires of the early 19th century but without the level of tools we have to eventually contain these large fires that create their own wether systems.

  2. That’s a great video for showing people what tactics look like and how messy things can look. Should reasonably hold on all that dozer line if winds don’t get too adverse, but some of the country where the retardant lies looks rough and will certainly be lost shortly. You can see how the switch in terrain likely challenged the dozer line continuing. Also some points to show where you have to go a bit indirect even with a dozer and burning out the fuels carefully is needed. Wish we could get more quality video like this to show people. I have often found that those who feel we are just dysfunctional government idiots are turned around rather quickly when you can point at a particular piece of ground and explain all the challenges presented, along with the pros and cons of the 1,000 ways to skin a cat…

    1. I know little about fighting forest fires. Retardant/bull dozing firebreaks adjacent to each other are important. Why not use explosives to widen firebreaks quickly next to retardant treated – dozer created firebreaks? Can explosions be used on large scale to deprive fires of oxygen and extinguish fires in large enough areas to increase containment? Why do we (in California) not have fire breaks between populated area and state and national forests? Why are California and the federal governments not hiring thousands of people to grow and plant new seedlings in burned areas?


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