A pair of wildfires in Northern California were roaring out of control Tuesday, ravaging the state’s wine country, displacing thousands of people and ramping up the misery of an already historic fire season.
Within a couple of days, the Glass Fire in Napa and Sonoma counties has exploded in size to 42,560 acres and destroyed at least 80 buildings, including homes and wineries.
All of Calistoga’s roughly 5,000 residents were ordered to evacuate Monday from the city about 55 miles north of San Francisco.
Linda Shaver left her home once and came back, thinking her it wasn’t in danger, only to be told to evacuate again, CNN affiliate KPIX reported.
“We didn’t take anything out of the car (from the first time),” Shaver told KPIX.
“You’re standing in your driveway and looking at your house and you wonder if you’re going to see it again,” Jim Cunningham, another Glass Fire evacuee, told KPIX Monday at an evacuation center. “The scariest part of it is not knowing.”
Firefighters also were trying to keep the flames advancing farther toward the city of Santa Rosa, Cal Fire incident commander Billy See said Tuesday.
“It’s been a long season. Most of (the firefighters) have been going since the middle of July without rest, from fire to fire to fire, here in the northern part of the state,” See told reporters.
Further north in Shasta County, the Zogg Fire has burned at least 50,102 acres in Shasta County southwest of Redding and killed at least three people, Cal Fire officials said on Tuesday.
Like the Glass Fire, it began in windy conditions early Sunday and has raced through the Northern California countryside.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Monday night in those three counties because of the relatively new fires. The Zogg Fire alone has destroyed 146 structures and threatens another 1,538, according to Cal Fire.
These blazes are just the latest in devastating season which has already produced five of the six largest wildfires in California’s history. Little rain, high temperatures and strong winds helped set the stage for the flames and continued to fuel the fires, especially since mid-August.
At least 22 large fires are active in the state, according to the National Fire Interagency Center.
Fire burns at wineries and a Michelin 3-star restaurant
The Glass Fire ignited in Napa County and expanded into Sonoma County at a “dangerous rate of spread,” Cal Fire said. It has sent at least 21 people to the hospital for burns or respiratory issues, officials said.
The fire has destroyed about 80 homes and 32 minor structures, Cal Fire Deputy Chief Jonathan Cox said Tuesday.
See, the Cal Fire incident commander, said the land being burned now lies between the footprint of three 2017 fires – and itself has no recorded fire history.
The relatively untouched vegetation has “created a problem for the firefighters,” See said.
Just outside Calistoga, the Castello di Amorosa winery has been badly damaged, CNN affiliate KGO reported.
Employees used hoses to try to extinguish flames, but they still lost part of the winery, owner Dario Sattui told KGO.
“The lab is gone, offices are gone, the wine was destroyed,” Sattui told KGO on Monday, adding the threat wasn’t over.
“The fire is 150 yards from here. I’m nervous, I know firefighters are stretched thin working their butts off. I wish they could have saved the warehouse,” Sattui said, according to KGO.
And just outside the Napa County city of St. Helena, the Glass Fire has destroyed a restaurant with three Michelin Guide stars.
The Restaurant at Meadowood, was reduced to rubble despite firefighters’ fierce efforts to quell the flames, including creating assembly lines of hoses and engines to take water from a swimming pool, CNN affiliate KGO reported.
“We are all torn apart,” Chef Chris Kostow wrote in an Instagram post Monday.
“For now, I want to thank all of the TRAMily that have ever graced this magical space,” the post reads, playing off an acronym for the restaurant, “and all of the guests over the years who have enjoyed the efforts of these multitudes. What an honor it has been.”
North of St. Helena, the Glass Fire destroyed the famed 41-year-old Chateau Boswell Winery.
The fire also has sent chunks of ash falling from the sky in the Santa Rosa area. Pictures from resident Morgan Balaei showed flurries of ash coming down Monday.
One chunk was so large, “it looked like someone’s toupee,” Balaei said.
“I could hear (ash) landing on my car,” she said.
Evacuation center full as 70,000 flee
More than 70,000 people have been ordered to evacuate in Sonoma and Napa counties as hot, dry winds pushed flames from the Glass Fire into neighborhoods and vineyards, consuming homes and other structures.
One of three shelters for those fleeing the Glass Fire, the Sonoma Marin Fairground, reached capacity early Monday, KGO reported.
Evacuees told KGO they didn’t know if their homes were destroyed by the fast-moving flames.
“Don’t know … all we know is it jumped over Highway 12 over into Oakmont,” Vallie and Tony, who did not give their last names, told the affiliate. “We just heard more and more sirens.”
Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds CEO Allison Keaney said the fairground was transformed from a Covid-19 testing site to a shelter overnight, KGO reported.
“People have different needs,” Keaney told the affiliate. “We have automobiles, a car camping area, RV’s another place – we’re just trying to make it accessible for everyone once they arrive here.”
She said that about 160 evacuees from a senior living facility in Santa Rosa are temporarily staying inside several buildings spaced 8 feet apart, KGO reported.
Ed Wayne told the affiliate that he came to the evacuation shelter to help out.
“People need help right now,” he said through tears, KGO reported. “Our community needs us.”
Kathy Guthormsen said she was also worried about her community after hearing her friends evacuated from the Santa Rosa Bird Rescue Center, according to KGO.
“Several of them had to leave their homes in the middle of the night,” she told the affiliate.
When asked if she was scared, Guthormsen told KGO. “Yes … as they say you hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”
Smoke makes for poor air quality
Smoke from California’s many fires has hung over swaths of the state for weeks. Authorities have issued air quality alerts for parts of Northern California and the San Joaquin Valley on Tuesday.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 3.8 million acres have burned in 8,136 fire incidents in California this year, Cal Fire said.
“Light winds, high temperatures, low humidities and a lack of resources will continue to challenge firefighters,” Cal Fire said Tuesday.
CNN’s Nicole Chavez, Justin Lear, Stella Chan, Sarah Moon, Cheri Mossburg, Jon Passantino and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.