Evacuations widen as wildfires continue to rage

Five major wildland fires have burned more than 39,000 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties, including the Tubbs Fire that has destroyed homes and businesses in Santa Rosa.

Nine people have been found dead in Tubbs Fire burn areas and all but one have been recovered, Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said Tuesday afternoon.

Giordano said at a news conference this afternoon outside the sheriff’s office not far from a fire still burning near the Fountaingrove area of Santa Rosa:

“The body (yet to be recovered) was found in an area that was too hot to enter.”

Sheriff’s officials also received 275 missing person reports and 57 of them of them were found safe. Missing person reports continue, Giordano said.

The Mark West, Coffey Park, Glen Ellen and Kenwood areas have been the most challenging fire zones in the sheriff’s office’s unincorporated county jurisdictions, Giordano said.

The 5,000-acre Nuns Fire in Glen Ellen was rapidly approaching the Oakmont retirement community south of Santa Rosa Tuesday afternoon.

A sheriff’s deputy in the Mark West area remained with 40 people who sheltered in place in a field near a blocked road while fires burned around them, Giordano said:

“I’ve heard some very harrowing stories.”

Giordano said 20 of his staff members lost their homes in the Tubbs Fire that started in Calistoga Sunday night and was quickly swept by the fierce, window-rattling wind into Santa Rosa.

A public community meeting about the fires and the response is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Santa Rosa High School at 1235 Mendocino Ave.

Fire related evacuations in northern and central Sonoma County and in Napa County continued late Tuesday afternoon. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office announced the evacuation of Sonoma Mountain, Bennett Ridge and Enterprise roads in the Bennett Valley area of Santa Rosa at 3:52 p.m.

Evacuations in the Montebello Road area on the south side of Shiloh Ranch Regional Park north of Santa Rosa and south of Windsor were begun after a fire broke out in the 5500 block of Faught Road around 4:08 p.m.

The Sheriff’s Office announced an evacuation east of the Bennett Valley Golf Course at 4:24 p.m. Santa Rosa police and the sheriff’s office were evacuating that area and west of Trione-Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa.

Residents of the Pacific Heights area behind Molsberry’s Market in Larkfield were ordered to evacuate around 4:45 p.m., and residents of the Ida Clayton area of Geyserville from state Highway 128 to the Napa County line were ordered to evacuate as a fire spread north.

The Napa County Sheriff’s Office ordered mandatory evacuations at 4:54 p.m. residents near Mt. Veeder Road west of Yountville. Residents were instructed to use Oakville Grade to get off the mountain.

About 75,000 electric customers are without service in the North Bay, with the majority of those in Sonoma and Napa counties, a PG&E spokeswoman said this evening.

Roughly 50,000 customers are without power in the Santa Rosa area and roughly 15,000 are out in the Napa area, which is 5,000 less than this afternoon, according to PG&E spokeswoman Andrea Menniti:

“We are currently assessing damage as first responders grant permission for our crews to safely access areas.”

At one point Monday, there were at least 114,000 customers affected by the outage.

PG&E has shut off gas service for roughly 40,000 customers in the Santa Rosa, Yountville, Napa and Kenwood areas as a safety precaution since fire can damage gas pipes and meters. That’s up from 28,000 customers this afternoon.

Menniti said:

“We took this action with our gas assets with safety first in mind to protect our customers and our communities.”

Reports of downed power lines have surfaced throughout the areas affected by wildfires this week, and PG&E urges anyone who encounters one to assume the line is live and stay away from it.

In the coming days, PG&E officials plan to deploy about 200 crews, which is about 800 crewmembers, to assess the damage from fires. Additional crewmembers will be coming from Southern California to help with assessing damage to gas service in the fire-ravaged areas.

Calistoga Joint Unified School District and Saint Helena Unified School District have both canceled classes through the rest of this week because of the wildfires burning in Napa County since Sunday night, district officials said Tuesday.

NVUSD officials are having trouble contacting staff so are also asking for all school principals at 3 p.m.

Thursday to report to the district’s board room at 2425 Jefferson St. in Napa.

Kitchen managers are asked to report at 7 a.m. to the Food Service office, also at 2425 Jefferson St. in Napa, while M&O heads of shop and head custodians are asked to report at 7 a.m. Wednesday to 1616 Lincoln Ave. in Napa.

Napa Valley College will also be closed through the end of the week and its gym remains open as a shelter for evacuees from the fires.