Crews ‘turn corner’ fighting North Bay fires

Napa County officials Sunday made it clear that this is “the day we have dreamed of” since savage wildfires sparked there a week ago, as the focus in the area shifts to recovery.

“Tremendous” progress has been made on all three of the fires affecting Napa County, Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann said in Sunday’s briefing at the sheriff’s office:

“The call went out for help and people poured in from all over. … Their support has allowed us to make significant progress on our fires.”

Biermann added:

“The Atlas fire is looking really good. We’ll continue to mop up to make sure the fire stays in the box. We’re confident it will remain there.”

The fire is 56 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. It has burned 51,057 acres.

The chief explained that while “the stuff on the hillside” will continue to burn until the rains come, there is little need for concern. The important thing with fires is containment – keeping the fires within a perimeter – and not necessarily total extinguishment.

The Nuns fire was a top priority for firefighters Sunday, Biermann said. That fire has burned 47,106 acres and is 25 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

The fire chief cited:

“… really good progress. The fire is holding really well on Dry Creek Road. We are continuing to put (bulldozer) lines. We have primary holding lines, we have a secondary line. Up toward St. Helena, containment lines continue to be put in.’ … We are going to see really good progress on the west side of the valley as well. No threat to the communities.”

Regarding the Tubbs fire:

“… we are making really good progress. I do not anticipate that it will make it into the town of Calistoga under current conditions,” the fire chief said.

The Tubbs fire has burned 35,470 acres and is 60 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

Biermann said, referring to the possibility of people returning to their homes:

“We are evaluating repopulation for Calistoga. … It is our priority to try to get people back in as soon as possible.”

Napa County Board of Supervisors chair Belia Ramos said:

“This is our last press conference. … We are now switching over to recovery mode. A week ago this started as a nightmare. … The day we have dreamed of has arrived. Be well, Napa, and be safe.”

“We are feeling optimistic we are turning the corner” as firefighters battle the blazes that have raged in the North Bay over the last seven days, Cal Fire’s incident commander said Sunday

Bret Gouvea, the incident commander, said in a news briefing at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds Sunday afternoon:

“Positive things are happening. … We just need the weather to cooperate with us.”

Saying of the fires, Gouvea said:

“They’re not going down easy, but we’re getting them, and we feel a lot better about it.”

The Tubbs Fire in Sonoma and Napa counties is 60 percent contained, having burned 35,470 acres. The Pocket Fire in Sonoma County is 25 percent contained and has burned 11,246 acres. The Nuns Fire, east of Highway 12 from east Santa Rosa to east of Sonoma, is 25 percent contained and has burned 47,106 acres.

The Atlas Fire, affecting Napa and Solano counties, is 56 percent contained, having burned 51,057 acres.

Gouvea said:

“We are nearing 100,000 acres of burned acreage. … We feel confident with the folks who are helping us we will get this thing knocked down for you.”

Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner said:

“Our big trouble spot is Oakmont.”

In additional news, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook reported the identities of four people who died in the fires in the county.

They are Sharon Rae Robinson, 79, of Santa Rosa; Daniel Martin Southard, 71, also of Santa Rosa; Lee Chadwick Roger, 72, of Glen Ellen; and Carmen Colleen McReynolds, 82, of Santa Rosa.

The death toll in the county is now up to 22, law enforcement officials said.

A smoke advisory and spare the air alert has been issued for Monday in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bay Area Air Quality Management District officials said Sunday.

The officials recommend that people, especially in Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties stay inside when possible in buildings with filtered air such as public libraries and shopping malls.

Or people in the fire-impacted areas should leave the area for areas less impacted by wildfire smoke until the smoke levels subside.

People who must stay in the fire-impacted areas should wear an N95 mask to minimize breathing harmful particles in smoke.

Air district officials urge people to protect themselves and their family from heavy smoke.

Residents who see or smell smoke in their immediate area should stay indoors, if possible, with the windows and doors closed and air conditioning units on recirculate.

Air district officials are asking residents and visitors to avoid adding pollution to the air by cutting back on activities such as wood burning, lawn mowing, leaf blowing, driving and barbecuing.

 

Almost all of Marin County’s public schools will be open Monday, the county’s schools superintendent said Sunday.

The College of Marin and Dominican University will also be open on Monday, Mary Jane Burke, Main County’s superintendent of schools, said.

The schools in the city of San Rafael’s elementary and high school districts and Nicasio school will be closed for previously scheduled staff development days, Burke said.

Sports activities are anticipated to resume Tuesday, Burke said.

San Francisco State University will reopen and resume a regular schedule Monday, university officials said.

The officials continue to monitor the air quality related to the wildfires in the North Bay but air quality is expected to be more favorable this week.

Rain is expected on Thursday and winds are forecast to blow east.

Schools in the West Contra Costa Unified School District in Contra Costa County will reopen Monday, school officials said Sunday.

Schools were closed Thursday and Friday and all school activities canceled during the weekend because of poor air quality, which was caused by the wildfires in the North Bay.

All classes and after-school activities such as athletic events and practices will resume Monday unless the air quality gets worse.