World California wine country firefight intensifies, progress made in deadly Cascades blaze

03:11  02 october  2020
03:11  02 october  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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Even as firefighters in Northern California ’s wine country battle a blaze that forced the evacuation of entire towns, a forecast of extreme heat and dry winds The fire is raging northeast of Santa Rosa, an area devastated by the 2017 Tubbs Fire that was among the most destructive in California history.

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By Adrees Latif

a large tree in a forest: A helicopter drops water on the Glass Fire in Calistoga, California © Reuters/ADREES LATIF A helicopter drops water on the Glass Fire in Calistoga, California

CALISTOGA, Calif. (Reuters) - California firefighters coping with limited resources and worsening weather struggled for a fifth day on Thursday to subdue flames menacing the famed Napa Valley wine region, while major progress was reported against a separate, deadly blaze in the Cascades.

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The death toll continues to climb from devastating wildfires in California wine country . The blaze is 7% contained as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Cal Fire officials. The blaze is only 2% contained. In Napa, crews are lighting backfires to help stop the flames from causing more devastation.

Thousands of California residents were forced to flee two new blazes on Monday that have killed at least three people and torched nearly 70,000 acres. The wine country has been scarred by terrible fires in recent years, including the Tubbs Fire that killed 22 people and destroyed more than 5,600

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said more than 17,000 fire personnel remained on the front lines of two dozen major wildfires across the state, with over 96,000 residents under evacuation orders.

Roughly half of those evacuees have been displaced by a fast-spreading blaze dubbed the Glass Fire, which erupted on Sunday near the Napa Valley resort of Calistoga, some 75 miles (120 km) north of San Francisco, then spread into neighboring Sonoma County.

After a brief respite from fierce gusts that had fanned early growth of the blaze, fire crews on Thursday faced a return of strong winds, combined with above-normal heat and extremely low humidity, prompting red-flag warnings of heightened wildfire risks.

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The blazes included the so-called Tubbs fire in Napa County, about 70 miles (113 km) north of San Francisco in an area world-famous for its vineyards. The region threatened by fires overlaps an area accounting for roughly 12 percent of California 's overall wine production by volume but also where its

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The incendiary weather, supercharging fuel beds overgrown with tinder-dry grass and scrub, is expected to challenge firefighters through the weekend as they battle to defend Napa Valley's homes and wineries in the midst of its harvest season.

"It's going to be a big firefight for us in the next 36 hours," Cal Fire operations section chief Mark Brunton told a late-morning briefing. He added commanders were forced to make due with "a limited amount of resources" due to competing demands for fire personnel throughout the state.

As of Thursday, firefighters have managed to carve firm containment lines around just 5% of the Glass Fire perimeter, which has grown to encompass nearly 57,000 acres (23,000 hectares).


By contrast, Cal Fire reported making significant headway against a slightly smaller blaze, the Zogg Fire about 200 miles to the north in the foothills of the Cascade range, with containment increasing there to 26%, up from 9% a day earlier.

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California 's peak fire season usually runs from September through November. As readers may recall, La Nina has amplified the fires with more than 8,100 wildfires have burned more than 3.7 million acres this year, according to CalFire. About 29 people have died, and more than 7,000 structures have been

The Zogg fire, which has destroyed nearly 150 buildings near the town of Redding, has claimed four lives, raising to 30 the number of people killed since mid-August in what now ranks as the worst California wildfire season on record in terms of acreage incinerated.

No serious injuries or deaths have been reported so far in the Glass Fire, but 52,000 people were under evacuation orders or warnings in Napa and Sonoma counties, Cal Fire said.

Of particular concern, Brunton said, were areas in and around Calistoga, a town of 5,300 residents known for its hot springs, mud baths and wine tasting rooms but vacated by evacuation orders on Monday.

He said several nearby communities, including Angwin, Pope Valley and Oakville, as well as various wineries and properties along the valley floor, were in harm's way if resurgent winds continue to spread flames in their direction.

The Glass Fire has already destroyed at least 248 homes and other structures, including the mansion-like Chateau Boswell winery and a farmhouse containing fermentation, bottling and storage facilities at the landmark Castello di Amorosa winery. That winery's main castle-like building was itself unscathed.

The Newton Vineyard winery also went up in flames, according to a Reuters photographer who visited the site on Wednesday, observing rivulets of red wine mixed with ash flowing down its main access road.

Wine industry officials say the longer-term consequence of the Glass Fire and a spate of other blazes that came before it is likely to be a 2020 vintage of diminished volume due to grapes spoiled by heavy exposure to smoke.

Chief Brunton said authorities were allowing wine growers in the fire zone to continue with harvest operations, where possible, given "this time of year being critical for them."

(Reporting by Adrees Latif in Calistoga, Calif; Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

California wildfire destroys over 550 homes as fire crews increase containment, 'turned the corner' .
A wildfire burning in Northern California's famed wine country has now destroyed over 550 homes, but officials said Monday they were hopeful as containment of the blaze increased overall. © FoxNews.com Buildings and wineries continue burning in Napa and Sonoma counties; Matt Finn reports from Deer Park. Cal Fire said as of Monday night the Glass Fire that's burning in Napa and Sonoma counties has scorched some 66,840 acres and is now 41% contained. “We have turned the corner on the fire as a whole,” Cal Fire division chief Ben Nicholls said during a briefing in Sonoma County.

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