SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Progress is moving forward on a steady path to containment of the North Bay wildfires, with recent rain helping the efforts, Cal Fire said Saturday morning. The Atlas Fire, which has burned 51,624 acres since it started Oct. 8, is 89 percent contained as of this morning, according to Cal Fire. The fire started off Atlas Peak Road south of Lake Berryessa, and has destroyed 458 residences, Cal Fire said. READ MORE: Mystery ‘Fire Angel’ Helped Save a Sonoma County Neighborhood Firefighters continue to strengthen perimeter control lines, provide structure defense and engage in tactical patrol with regard to the Atlas fire. The Tubbs Fire has burned 36,793 acres and is 94 percent contained; the Pocket Fire has burned 17,357 acres and is 84 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. The Sonoma Nuns Fire burned 36,232 acres, and the Napa Nuns Fire burned 19,984 acres, Cal Fire said. The total containment for both Nuns fires is 86 percent at present. © Copyright 2017 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed
NAPA (CBS SF) — Most wine tasting rooms have reopened in Napa and Sonoma counties following the wildfires this month in the two counties, a winery advocacy group said Eriday. READ MORE: Wine Country Wildfires Fewer than a dozen wineries were destroyed or heavily damaged in the fires and some operated despite the challenging conditions, officials with the Wine Institute said. Institute officials said except where the fire was the fastest and strongest, the high amount of moisture in the vineyards kept them from burning. Vineyards in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties represent about 12 percent of wine grape production in California. Institute officials said because of the heat in late August and early September 90 percent of the 2017 harvest in Napa and Sonoma counties was completed before the fires. Neither smoke nor heat from the fires affected the fermenting of wine or the wine already bottled. Institute officials said the grapes grown in the 2017 season are excellent and their optimistic the vintage will be as well. According to the institute, it’s too early to tell what the economic impact of the fires will be on the wine industry. But major damage to vineyards and wineries was not widespread. Also, operating again is the Napa Valley Wine Train as most of valley was untouched by the fires, company officials said. © Copyright 2017 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed
SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) – The Bear Fire in unincorporated Santa Cruz County has burned 320 acres and is 40 percent contained as of 9 a.m. Friday morning, according to Cal Fire. Cal Fire officials said that cool, moist weather conditions helped the firefight and the area also received a quarter-inch of rain last night. Fire crews were reinforcing and establishing containment lines around the fire. Despite the progress on containing the blaze, the rough terrain and heavy timber in the area increases the challenge of full containment, according to Cal Fire. Friday’s temperatures are expected to be between 58-62 degrees with humidity expected to be at a minimum of 60-65 percent. Winds are expected to be a little stronger today, ranging from 9-15 mph with gusts increasing in the afternoon. Evacuation orders remain in effect for Bear Creek Canyon Road, Deer Creek Road, Rons Road, Dons Road and any tributary streets in the fire area. In addition, Bear Creek Road between Hawk Ridge Road and state Highway 35 and Sunset Ridge Road are open to residents only. The fire that started Monday night at 10:37 p.m. has destroyed four structures. Seven firefighters have been injured in the effort to put it out. © Copyright 2017 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
SONOMA (KPIX 5) — For the people who lost everything to the Northern California wildfires, the next chapter is just beginning. More than 6,000 people in Sonoma County lost their homes and most are desperate to go back and sift through debris. Row after row of people packed into Sonoma County’s community meeting Thursday. Among those present was Martin Grove, who lost his home in the fire and described the whole thing as “surreal”. Everyone there had a similar story. Barry Hirsch lost his home. He told KPIX 5, “It’s gone. It’s burnt. There’s nothing left.” Barbara McElroy also lost her home and said she hasn’t been allowed to return to her property. Since last Monday road blocks have kept them out. First responders are the only ones allowed in there. Cal Fire PIO Jonathan Cox said, “We do not want the public back into these dangerous areas.” Here’s what they do want you to do: register your losses with FEMA. Eric Lamoureux with California Office of Emergency Services said, “Registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency is critical to every service we’re going to be able to provide. If they don’t register, we don’t know what their needs are.” They’re also asking you to sign a right of entry form allowing FEMA to remove hazardous waste from your property. Some are worried rain, which is predicted for Thursday evening, could drag debris into local watersheds. The total damage from the recent California wildfires is expected to top $1 billion. The fires burning in wine country are expected to be fully contained in the coming days.
UKIAH (CBS SF) — As the flames closed in on Jane Gardiner’s Redwood Valley home early the morning of Oct. 9th, she called her step-son to tell him the fire had surrounded her house and she and her friend — Elizabeth Foster — were waiting for the fire department to rescue them. The rescue never arrived, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department. The 83-year-old Gardiner and the 64-year-old Foster were two of the eight Mendocino wildfire victims whose identities were released by the coroner’s office on Thursday. The remains of the two women were discovered inside their completely burned residence on Tomki Road. WINE COUNTRY WILDFIRES: Continuing Coverage The other victims were:
- Kai Logan Shepherd, a 14-year-old from Redwood Valley, was found near his family residence. Officials said it appeared he was attempting to evacuate the area on foot when he was overtaken by the fire.
- Roy Howard Bowman, an 87-year-old from Redwood Valley, and his 88-year-old wife — Irma Elsie Bowman — were found in the burnt remains of their residence on Fisher Lake Drive.
- Steve Bruce Stelter, a 56-year-old from Redwood Valley, was found near a vehicle outside his residence in the 11300 block of West Road. It appeared he was preparing the vehicle to be used to evacuate the area when he was overtaken by the fire. The residence was completely destroyed by the fire.
- Stelter’s girlfriend — Janet Kay Costanzo — was found in the burnt remains of the residence she shared with him.
- Margaret Stephenson, an 86-year-old from Redwood Valley, was found in the burnt remains of her residence in the 12800 block of Tomki Rd. It appeared she was evacuating through the residence’s garage when she was overtaken by the fire. The residence was completely destroyed by the fire.
SANTA ROSA (AP) — Some had just celebrated marriages of half a century or longer. They spent their time volunteering and playing with grandchildren. A few had lived through both world wars. The majority of the 42 people killed in the wildfires that have ravaged Northern California were senior citizens, most in their 70s or older. Several were couples who died together, including childhood sweethearts who had grown old together. WINE COUNTRY WILDFIRES: Continuing Coverage A 95-year-old man and his 75-year-old wife spent their final moments huddled in the wine cellar of their home where they had lived for 45 years. The oldest victim — 100-year-old World War II veteran Charles Rippey, who used a walker — is believed to have been trying to make it to his 98-year-old wife, Sara, who had limited mobility after a stroke. Their caretaker barely escaped alive before the roof collapsed and the blaze engulfed the house. An 80-year-old man never made it past his driveway after getting his 80-year-old wife into the car to escape. The two were born four days apart and died together. Some simply clung to each other until the end. Armando Berriz, 76, held his wife of 55 years, Carmen Caldentey Berriz, afloat in a swimming pool as walls of fire burned around them. He let go only after Carmen stopped breathing and the flames had burned out, laying her on the steps of the pool with her arms crossed over her chest. He then walked 2 miles to find help. “This situation has been so tragic on so many levels,” said Caroline Cicero, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. “Couples who have been living together for 30, 40, 50 years, especially in their 80s and 90s, definitely might have just realized this is the end. ‘There is nothing we can do, so we’ll go out together,’ which is a beautiful thing. But it’s tragic for those left behind.” If a spouse survived, it will be an extremely painful road to recovery, especially for older people who may never heal, said Cicero, who has worked as a geriatric social worker. Authorities identified two more elderly victims on Wednesday: Monte Neil Kirven, 81, and Marilyn Carol Ress, 71. The heavy toll on older people has raised questions about whether more could have been done to alert the most vulnerable in time to escape. Among the victims were those who had survived strokes, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. They could not move fast enough to escape the speeding flames. Others likely never heard the frantic calls of friends or honking of neighbors’ cars — possibly the only warning that they were in danger. It’s only been since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that cities began drawing up emergency preparedness plans that specifically take the elderly into account, Cicero said. Some cities, such as Culver City in suburban Los Angeles, now allow people to put their names on a list that notifies officials they need priority because they are hearing impaired or have other issues that may limit their ability to evacuate quickly. But Cicero said she is not sure what could have been done in places like Santa Rosa, where a wildfire sprung up quickly and overtook homes in suburban neighborhoods and remote woods at night, giving people only minutes or, in some cases, seconds to escape. George Powell, 74, said he does not know what woke him early Monday. He looked out the window to flames and immediately woke his 72-year-old wife, Lynne Anderson Powell. She grabbed a laptop, her border collie and was driving down their mountain road within minutes. He went for his three border collies and fled 15 minutes behind her in his own vehicle. There was a huge wall of fire along the road. Powell said he realized later that he had driven past his wife’s Prius, which had gone off the road and plunged into a ravine in the thick smoke. Lynne’s burned body was found steps from her car; the dog was found burned to death inside. The couple had been married 33 years and lived in the woods in the Santa Rosa area. She had recently overcome cancer. “If I had known, I would have gone down there with her, even if it meant I would have died with her,” Powell said. “I don’t know how I’m going to cope. She was my life. “She was my life,” he repeated.
CALISTOGA (KCBS) — When the Tubbs Fire exploded outside Calistoga, it raced over a nearby ridge and into the Franz Valley. Within minutes, it was bearing down on Mayacamas Ranch, a 250-acre resort and retreat center on Mountain Home Ranch Road. David Levy, the resort’s owner, realized they had no time to spare, and had to evacuate the ranch. His longtime chef and ranch hand, Miguel Islas, ran door to door, going from cabin to cabin, telling the 18 guests on the property to get out. While others were leaving, Islas rushed to the pool to make sure no one was there, then checked all the cabins again to make sure no one was left behind, like a pilot on a downed airliner. WINE COUNTRY WILDFIRES: Continuing Coverage By then, it was almost too late for Islas to get out safely himself. He drove through a wall of fire, as the ranch was consumed by the flames behind him. He told KCBS Reporter Doug Sovern the wind, and the force of the fire, were so strong, it felt like someone was pushing him from behind. His car windows were so hot, he thought his car would explode. Islas had lived and worked at Mayacamas for 15 years. He kept his life savings of $16,000 in cash, in his room. He was celebrated not just for his giving spirit, but for his amazing cooking, whipping up gourmet meals for the thousands of Bay Area artists, writers, yoga practitioners and others who have been going to the ranch for years. Now, he’s lost everything. Sovern brought him back to the ranch this week, and Islas, and Levy, were both stunned by the devastation. “It’s like a bomb went off. There’s no crater, ” says Levy, “but everything is just incinerated.” “We have nothing. There’s nothing here,” says Islas. “Nothing of the paradise.” Levy says Islas is a hero, who saved 18 lives, but the chef says he’s no hero. He stood sobbing as he poked through the ruins of his beloved kitchen, and searched in vain for something he could salvage. “This was my life. I feel like part of my life is gone,” Islas said. “Seeing my kitchen, I feel like I’m losing a part of my heart.” Islas did find one thing that survived the flames: a small, terra cotta sculpture of seven people in a circle, arms around each other, holding each other up. Levy says it will be a symbol of renewal, and of whatever rises from the ashes of Mayacamas Ranch. The fire left Islas homeless, unemployed, and broke. But he’s already looking to a future, of rebuilding and recovery. “I have my life,’ Islas says. “That’s all that matters. My lives, and the lives of the other people.” A Gofundme account has been setup to help Islas — https://www.gofundme.com/mayacamas-ranch-chef. A GoFundme account has also been setup to help the Ranch — https://www.gofundme.com/MayacamasRecovery.