Wrapping up the 77,000-acre Kincade Fire

The fire has burned 77,758 acres north of Santa Rosa, California

Kincade Fire 9:06 a.m. PDT Oct. 27, 2019
The Kincade Fire as seen from the St. Helena North camera at 9:06 a.m. PDT Oct. 27, 2019. Looking toward Healdsburg.

The Kincade Fire that raced across 77,758 acres north of Santa Rosa, California is not completely out and will not be for weeks or months, but there has not been any major spread for days. Satellites that can detect large areas of heat have not found any since November 1, but firefighters are still mopping up, extinguishing Black Oak stumps that the satellites can’t see, and are putting in fireline where needed. They will also need to repair miles of dozer line that helped keep the fire in check.

CAL FIRE reports that 175 homes, 11 commercial structures, and 186 other buildings have been destroyed.

All evacuation orders have been lifted except for three locations: Briggs Ranch Road area, Highway 128 North Knights Valley area to the Napa County Line, and The Chalk Hill Road area. (more information)

Resources assigned to the fire include 356 engines, 45 water tenders, 3 helicopters, 95 hand crews and 28 dozers for a total of 3,929 personnel.

The Press Democrat is not a huge media outlet, but the staff does a great job of covering wildfires in California’s North Bay. A November 1 article that summarizes the evolution of the Kincade Fire since it started on October 23 is evidence of why citizens should support local news and other original reporting. Their in-depth story has excellent photos and graphics as well as details you will not find other places.

Kincade Fire burns into two fires from 2017

The Tubbs and Pocket Fires

Kincade Pocket Tubbs fires California
The perimeter of the Kincade Fire at 1:09 a.m. PDT October 28, 2019 seen in relation to the Tubbs and Pocket Fires on October 24, 2017. Click to enlarge.

When the wind is blowing at 50 to 90 mph not much can stop a wildfire, but the footprints of two fires that burned in October of 2017, the Tubbs and Pocket Fires, may have had some limited effect on the spread of the Kincade Fire that started last week.

When a wildfire burns into a two-year-old fire scar, usually there is much less vegetation than what had been carrying the fire — fewer tons per acre  and lighter fuels. For example if moving from chaparral to grass, the intensity, the amount of heat produced, and number and size of fire brands generated would be much less. That does not mean the fire would go out on it’s own, but unless the weather is extreme, like it has been in northern California off and on for the last week, there would be less resistance to control. In other words, easier to put out.

In some cases with very steep slopes or  heavy fuels such as very dense brush or timber, retardant dropped from an aircraft might have little effectiveness in dry windy conditions. But in the lighter vegetation that follows a fire, aircraft can be very efficient in slowing the spread long enough to allow firefighters on the ground to move in and actually suppress it.

During the extreme weather in northern California the last few days the Kincade Fire spread partially into the Pocket Fire on the north and the Tubbs Fire on the south. On the map above take note of the unburned red polygon, or island, inside the perimeter of the Pocket Fire.

During extreme winds and single-digit humidity a fire can keep spreading until it runs completely out of fuel, but it would be interesting to hear from folks that were on the Kincade Fire to find out if there was any significant change in fire intensity when it moved into the two fire scars.

Firefighters on Kincade Fire prepare for Red Flag weather conditions

Two firefighters were burned Sunday

8:09 a.m. PDT October 29, 2019

map kincade fire California wildfire
Map showing in red the perimeter of the Kincade Fire at 12:49 a.m. PDT October 29, 2019. The white line was the approximate perimeter about 24 hours before. Click to enlarge.

On Monday the Kincade Fire grew a relatively small amount, all of it on the east and southeast sides. CAL FIRE reports that the official size is 75,415 acres. (see map above)

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Kincade Fire, including the most recent, click here.)

The weather on Monday gave firefighters the opportunity to make significant progress on the fire. But on Tuesday and Wednesday much of California is under a Red Flag Warning for strong winds and low humidity, including the Kincade Fire area.

Below is the National Weather Service forecast for wind and humidity near the fire at Geyserville. The wind barbs point to the direction the wind will be from. After 2 p.m. Tuesday the prediction is for 14 to 16 mph sustained winds out of the northeast with gusts of 21 to 33 until 4 a.m. Wednesday. The humidity will reach into the single digits and there will be no clouds or chance of precipitation.

Weather forecast Geyserville
Weather forecast for the Geyserville area October 29-30, 2019.

CAL FIRE reports that 57 homes and 5 commercial structures have been destroyed.

Resources assigned to the fire include 549 engines, 42 water tenders, 27 helicopters, 86 hand crews, and 66 dozers for a total of 4,548 personnel.

Many fixed wing air tankers have been used on the fire. The 747 Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) has been activated as well as four DC-10 VLATs. These and other tankers, such as the C-130, 737, BAe-146, RJ85, P-3, and MD87 are being used on CAL FIRE and U.S. Forest Service contracts throughout California as fires erupt. There could be more if needed, but the Forest Service has not awarded the Call When Needed contracts for backup air tankers that was first advertised 517 days ago. The eight C-130 military Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, MAFFS, could also be activated.


7:14 a.m. PDT October 28, 2019

Strong northeast winds that continued Sunday pushed the Kincade Fire to Highway 101 south of Healdsburg, California. The map below indicates that the fire may have been stopped before entering the city.

Two firefighters were burned yesterday. CAL FIRE spokesperson Jonathan Cox said one firefighter with serious burn injuries was airlifted to University of California Davis Medical Center.

Sunday afternoon CAL FIRE reported that the fire had burned 54,298 acres, but an overnight mapping flight found that number had increased to nearly 80,000 acres. Approximately 94 structures have been destroyed and 17 damaged.

Continue reading “Firefighters on Kincade Fire prepare for Red Flag weather conditions”

Strong winds push Kincade Fire west across Highway 128

The mandatory evacuation zones stretches to the Pacific Ocean

Above: The Kincade Fire as seen from the St. Helena North camera at 9:06 a.m. PDT Oct. 27, 2019. Looking toward Healdsburg.

UPDATED at 5:53 p.m. PDT October 27, 2019

Map Kincade Fire 1:18 p.m. PDT October 27, 2019
Map showing heat detected on the Kincade Fire by a satellite as late as at 1:18 p.m. PDT October 27, 2019. Not to be used for planning or evacuation decisions.

UPDATED at 12:30 p.m. PDT October 27, 2019

At a 10 a.m. press conference fire officials said they hope to stop the 30,000-acre Kincade Fire at the 101 freeway. The area west of the 101 does not have a recent history of fires so the vegetation, or fuel, is heavy and would present even more resistance to control.

After being closed and then open, the 101 is being closed again in the Healdsburg area between Arata Lane and Dry Creek.

Air attack, orbiting overhead and directing aircraft traffic on the Kincade Fire, has ordered large air tankers, hoping  that they can be effective in spite of the near hurricane-force winds creating turbulence and possibly blowing retardant off target.

map perimeter of the Kincade Fire
On the map of the Kincade Fire the red dots (or, the large red area) represent heat detected by a satellite at 3:36 a.m. October 27; those locations are not confirmed by personnel on the ground. The red line was the perimeter at 1:36 a.m. October 27, 2019 as detected by a fixed wing aircraft. Shown also are two large burn areas from 2017. The map should not be used for planning or evacuation decisions.

 UPDATED at 9:30 a.m. October 27, 2019

Strong winds out of the northeast pushed the Kincade Fire across Highway 128 at about 3 a.m. on Sunday. A gust of 93 mph was recorded at the Healdsburg Hills North weather station at 5:50 a.m. PDT. Ten other weather stations in the area showed gusts at 50 mph or above.

map perimeter of the Kincade Fire
On the map of the Kincade Fire the red dots (or, the large red area) represent heat detected by a satellite at 3:36 a.m. October 27; those locations are not confirmed by personnel on the ground. The red line was the perimeter at 1:36 a.m. October 27, 2019 as detected by a fixed wing aircraft. The map should not be used for planning or evacuation decisions.

Air tankers are not able to assist firefighters on the ground Sunday morning due to severe wind turbulence making it unsafe to fly and difficult for retardant to accurately hit targets.

Early Sunday morning the fire was about 10 miles north of Santa Rosa, California.

The fixed wing mapping flight at 1:36 a.m. Sunday found that the fire had burned 29,101 acres, but much additional growth has occurred since then.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Kincade Fire, including the most recent, click here.)

The fire was moving to the southwest in the general direction of Healdsburg and Windsor. Reporters and photographers on the scene are saying structures, including the Soda Rock Winery, have burned near Highway 128.

For several hours overnight Highway 101 was closed between Santa Rosa and Cloverdale but began to reopen at about 6:50 a.m. Sunday.

Mandatory evacuation zones stretch all the way west to the Pacific Ocean affecting 180,000 people. Sonoma County maintains current evacuation information, including a zoomable map.

Evacuation zones Kincade Fire
Evacuation zones. Map by Sonoma County. Check HERE for the most current data.

We will update this article as more information becomes available.

Additional evacuations ordered for Kincade Fire

While rescuing two civilians a firefighter used a fire shelter as a shield

Above: Looking east at 4:40 p.m. October 25 the camera at Geyser Peak photographed a large flare up on the Kincade Fire.

UPDATED at 7:37 p.m. PDT October 26, 2019

New evacuation orders and warnings have been issued for the Kincade Fire. Details are at the Sonoma County web site. Winds gusting to over 60 mph hour are in the forecast for the Kincade Fire area after 11 p.m. Saturday. This is a very serious situation and anyone in the identified areas needs to leave.

One of the more active areas on the fire Saturday was on the east side near Pine Flat Road, the same general location as the flareup Friday.

Saturday afternoon officials said 31 homes and 46 other structures have been destroyed.

Four Very Large Air Tankers were working the Kincade Fire Saturday afternoon preparing for the very strong wind later tonight: Tankers 910, 911, 914, and 944 — three DC-10s and the 747. Several other air tankers and helicopters were also engaged.

Below is the National Weather Service forecast for wind in the Kincade Fire area. The wind barbs point to the direction the wind will be from, in this case, after 7 p.m. north-northeast or northeast through Monday morning. The upper line represents wind gusts.

Wind Forecast Kincade Fire
Wind forecast, Kincade Fire Area, beginning Saturday October 26. Click to enlarge.

7:45 a.m. PDT October 26, 2019

Friday afternoon the Kincade Fire east of Geyserville, California consumed about 4,000 more acres as winds that shifted 180 degrees, twice, pushed it in various directions. At the Healdsburg Hills North weather station the wind in the morning was from the north until 11 a.m. when it became out of the south at 7 to 15 mph gusting at 10 to 24 mph. Then between 5 and 6:30 p.m. it made a slow direction change to north at 12 to 15 gusting at 15 to 26. This resulted in the fire spreading on the north and east sides. As of Saturday morning it has burned 25,455 acres.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Kincade Fire, including the most recent, click here.)

New evacuation orders were issued overnight. The map maintained by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office can be accessed here.

CAL FIRE confirmed that a firefighter and two civilians were transported to a hospital by ground ambulance to be evaluated after an incident within the incident. At approximately 6:20 p.m. Friday a firefighter was helping get two civilians to safety who were attempting to evacuate as the fire activity intensified. The firefighter deployed his fire shelter to shield them from the fire. All injuries appear to be non-life threatening.

Map Kincade Fire
Map of the Kincade Fire showing the perimeter at 11:17 p.m. October 25, 2019.

The light wind predicted for Saturday is not expected to be a major factor on the fire, but beginning at 11 p.m. it will increase through the rest of the night to 33 mph gusting out of the northeast at 60. It should decrease on Sunday afternoon to 17 mph with gusts around 30.

The Healdsburg Hills North weather station is operated by Pacific Gas and Electric and judging from the coordinates appears to be mounted on a high voltage transmission tower. That location on the east side of the fire (see map) was burned over Friday afternoon between 6:20 and 6:30 p.m. Within a 20-minute period the recorded temperature increased from 80 to 114 degrees, then by 7:30 p.m. it was back to 80 degrees.

Weather observations Kincade Fire
Weather observations at the Healdsburg Hills North weather station October 25, 2018 as the site was burned over by the Kincade Fire.

CAL FIRE reports that 79 structures have been destroyed.

Resources assigned to the Kincade Fire include 53 hand crews, 179 engines, 24 water tenders, 24 dozers, and 10 helicopters for a total of 2,090 personnel.