Fires

PG&E says next blackout will hit 605,000 customers. Parts of Sonoma cleared

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»» LATEST: Find Tuesday’s updates on the Kincade Fire here.

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The Kincade Fire continues to burn Monday in Sonoma County, with about 180,000 residents still under mandatory evacuation orders.

Meanwhile a dangerous new fire, the Getty Fire, ignited overnight in the hills above residential west Los Angeles near Brentwood, and Los Angeles officials said some homes had been destroyed.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Los Angeles Lakers player LeBron James were among those forced to evacuate their homes early Monday morning.

In Sonoma County, where the Kincade Fire has been burning for five days, almost 80,000 structures remain threatened by the wildfire, 96 have already been destroyed and 16 more were damaged, Cal Fire said in an incident report at 7 a.m. Monday.

Historic, hurricane-strength winds plagued Northern California late Saturday into Sunday, helping swell the state’s biggest wildfire of 2019 to more than 66,000 acres — an area of 103 square miles — as of Cal Fire’s latest incident report. The fire ignited late Wednesday night in the hills near Geyserville.

Evacuation warnings issued for Middletown area

Updated at 6 p.m.

Fire officials issued an evacuation warning Monday evening to residents in the Middletown area, where many houses were destroyed by the 2015 Valley Fire. That area is just east of where the current main burn area of the Kincade Fire.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, speaking to news media during a Monday evening visit with fire fighters at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, said the Kincade Fire continues to be worrisome, given the forecast for high winds Tuesday.

“Kincade remains the most vexing and challenging .... with the winds that are going to come back through…” he said.

Newsom said the towns of Healdsburg and Windsor continue to be under threat at the fire’s western edge.

PG&E confirms another blackout

Updated at 4:45 p.m.

PG&E Corp. confirmed it will begin another blackout Tuesday morning, affecting 605,000 homes and businesses in 29 counties.

The “public safety power shutoff” will affect portions of the following counties: Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba.

PG&E also said it had restored power to 325,000 of the 970,000 customers who were blacked out in the power outage that began Saturday night.

The utility has said it might not be able to restore power to every customer before the next shutoff begins Tuesday morning.

Updated at 4 p.m.

Newsom offers website for blackouts, evacuees

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office launched a website designed to help wildfire evacuees — as well as those blacked out by their utilities.

The website provides information on emergency shelters, transportation and updates on wildfires.

Newsom, in a prepared statement, called the site a “unified portal for critical information during this state of emergency. This site will continuously be updated as needed to provide Californians with the resources they need.”

Updated at 2:45 p.m.

PG&E equipment linked to Lafayette fires

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said equipment could be linked to two fires that broke out Sunday in Lafayette.

In two incident reports filed with the Public Utilities Commission, the troubled utility said a fallen transformer was a “potential ignition source” of a fire that lit on Lafayette’s Camino Diablo Road, where a fire burned seven acres and caused evacuations. At a second site, the company reported a broken wire by a conductor. Contra Costa Fire Protection District said 50 acres burned and a tennis club was damaged.

PG&E is under intense scrutiny already in connection with the Kincade Fire. It reported that a transmission wire malfunctioned in the area where the fire ignited in Geyserville last Wednesday night.

Updated at 2:36 p.m.

PG&E restores power to 229,000

PG&E continued to restore power to customers blacked out since Saturday night. Spokeswoman Brandi Merlo said 229,000 homes and businesses have regained power, out of 965,000 who were subjected to the latest “public safety power shutoff.”

However, the utility has warned it’s possible some customers could still lack power Tuesday morning, when the next deliberate power outage is scheduled. The company has issued warnings to about 500,000 customers about Tuesday’s planned blackout, although that number could change.

A resumption of fierce winds is forecast for Tuesday.

Updated at 2:13 p.m.

Western Sonoma residents can go home

As winds continued to settle down, Cal Fire announced that evacuation orders were lifted for sections of western Sonoma County.

Residents have been allowed to return home in Bodega, Bodega Bay, Carmet, Muniz Ranch, Sebastopol, Occidental, Freestone, Camp Meeker, Forestville, Rio Nido, Hacienda, Monte Rio, Cazadero, Guerneville and Valley Ford.

Those areas were evacuated over the weekend when Cal Fire was envisioning a “worst-case scenario” in which westward winds would push the Kincade Fire over Highway 101 and into the densely forested western portion of the county.

‘No precipitation in sight’

The NWS Sacramento office said in a forecast report early Monday morning that “fire weather concerns will be somewhat elevated compared to early November normals with no precipitation in sight” for Northern California this week through next Monday.

No rain is in the week’s forecasts anywhere in Sonoma County.

Beyond the start of next week, an 8-14 day precipitation outlook map by the NWS Climate Prediction Center shows that Northern California has about a 50-60 percent probability of receiving less precipitation than the historical normal amount from Nov. 4-10.

Trump continues to monitor situation

Updated 12:45 p.m.

The White House in a statement Monday said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working with California and Gov. Gavin Newsom, who on Sunday declared a statewide state of emergency due to wildfires and extreme wind.

“The White House and FEMA have been in contact with State and local officials in California, including Governor Newsom personally,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman. “Federal resources have been made available and we continue to work with the Governor and his staff to determine if additional support is necessary. The president will continue to monitor the situation.”

A senior administration official told McClatchy that President Donald Trump is closely monitoring the situation, including the fast-moving Getty Fire, which began threatening some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area overnight.

While the official said the destruction thus far from three outbreaks statewide could warrant a major disaster declaration – a move that would unlock additional federal funds for California – under the Stafford Act, Newsom would have to request any further assistance. No such request has been made at this time.

“We remain in a supporting role, and we are here for California. We have approved three fire management assistance grants,” another official, this one with FEMA, told McClatchy. The latest of those grants, meant to assist the fight against the Getty fire, was issued on Monday morning.

Weather service ends Red Flag warning

Updated 11:20 a.m.

The National Weather Service at 11 a.m. lifted its Red Flag warning as the high winds from the weekend have tapered. But the service said it expects to issue a new flag warning, indicating high fire danger, Tuesday morning, possibly as early as 8 a.m.

PG&E officials say their crews are out inspecting power lines in hopes of getting electricity back to many of the million-plus Northern California residents still without power.

“PG&E crews began conducting safety patrols and inspections where power had been turned off for safety,” the utility posted on its website Monday. “In some areas where patrols have been completed, we are beginning to re-energize the power lines. Inspections will take place during daylight hours.”

The utility has not, however, listed any timeline for power restoration as of 11:20 a.m.

Weather service meteorologist Emily Heller said fire danger this week will be slightly less than it was during massive winds on Sunday,”but conditions are still extremely dry, and we have ongoing fires, it’s still a critical fire weather situation.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger evacuated

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was among those forced to flee their homes early Monday due to the Getty Fire, which ignited overnight in the hills of west Los Angeles.

Schwarzenegger tweeted: “We evacuated safely at 3:30 this morning. If you are in an evacuation zone, don’t screw around. Get out. Right now I am grateful for the best firefighters in the world, the true action heroes who charge into the danger to protect their fellow Californians. #GettyFire”

No update on injured firefighter

Updated 9:20 a.m.

No further information is being released Monday morning on the status of a firefighter who sustained serious injuries while fighting the Kincade Fire over the weekend, Cal Fire officials said during a press conference.

One other firefighter sustained minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital, Cal Fire officials said during a Sunday evening news conference. No other firefighters injuries occurred overnight, and no civilian injuries have been reported in connection with the Kincade Fire as of Monday morning.

‘Aggressive’ activity overnight south of Windsor

Updated 9:15 a.m.

Firefighters made an “aggressive stand” amid heavy fire activity in the Shiloh Ridge area south of Windsor overnight, Cal Fire officials said during a Monday morning press conference.

At least some structures were damaged or destroyed, but an estimate on the number of involved structures was not given, as the damage was still being inspected.

No re-entry plan yet

Updated 9:15 a.m.

Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said during a 9 a.m. press conference that there is no plan in place yet for re-entry or repopulation in the evacuated areas.

Essick said repopulation is likely to occur, roughly, in the reverse order that evacuation orders were issued.

Monday firefight: ‘We’re looking at favorable conditions’

Updated 8:30 a.m.

Cal Fire chiefs say today is key in making progress on the Kincade fire fight, as winds die down for at least 24 hours before they kick up again sometime Tuesday evening.

“There is a lot of iron out there working this fire,” Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said on Monday morning. The fire has been spotting, because of the winds, creating small isolated blazes, and keeping fire crews scrambling,

“They are strengthening their lines today and tonight” in preparation for Tuesday’s next round of winds, McLean said. “We’re looking at favorable conditions this afternoon.”

Map of Kincade Fire in Sonoma County

Red circles on this live-updating map are actively burning areas, as detected by satellite. Orange circles have burned in the past 12 to 24 hours, and yellow circles have burned within the past 48 hours. Yellow areas represent the fire perimeter.
Source: National Interagency Fire Center

Red Flag warning may be lifted at 11 a.m.

Updated 7:45 a.m.

The National Weather Service is reporting it likely will lift its red flag warning for high winds and critical fire weather this Monday morning at 11 a.m. for most of the interior of Northern California.

At the moment, Northern California is seeing gusts up to 40 miles per hour, considerably less violent than on Sunday. Winds are expected to decrease notably late this morning.

The latest report: “Breezy north winds continue this morning although somewhat weaker than on Sunday. Humidity values remain quite low, however, so fire weather candidness will remain elevated through the morning hours.

“By late morning, wind speeds should become fairly light and remain light through the rest of the day and tonight.

“Another windy system is likely Tuesday and Wednesday bringing another round of elevated fire danger.”

LeBron James and family sent fleeing

Updated at 7:35 a.m.

Los Angeles Lakers basketball star LeBron James reported on his travails through the night. The Getty Fire in west Los Angeles forced James and his family to flee their home at around 4 a.m. Monday. James initially reported on twitter, “I’ve been driving around with my family trying to get rooms. No luck so far!”

Later, he reported they had found a place, tweeting: “Crazy night man!” He offered a prayer for affected families, and added, “my best wishes to the first responders right now doing what they do best!”

100-mph gust hit near Geyserville, PG&E says

Updated at 7:30 a.m.

PG&E says its equipment recorded a 102-mph gust on Pine Flat Road, located just east of Geyserville, at about 8 a.m. Sunday.

The six highest wind speeds recorded Sunday across PG&E’s service area all came in Sonoma County, including a 93-mph burst in the north Healdsburg hills, the utility company said in a news release announcing the weather “all clear” to begin power restoration activity.

Getty Fire erupts in Los Angeles

Updated at 7:30 a.m.

A hillside wildfire erupted in the early morning Monday along the 405 freeway corridor, putting more than 3,000 homes in danger in upscale hill neighborhoods near the Getty Center museum in west Los Angeles.

The fire has closed the 405 freeway, a main commuter passage from the San Fernando Valley into Los Angeles.

Los Angeles authorities said the Getty Center is not in danger at the moment.

Kincade Fire containment shrinks, winds continue

Updated at 7 a.m.

Cal Fire reported the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County as 5 percent contained by Monday morning, down from an earlier containment total of 10 percent. The weekend’s severe wind event led the wildfire to reinvigorate after relatively calm conditions Friday.

Wind gusts up to 50 mph are still possible Monday morning, according to Cal Fire’s. The fire is burning in hilly terrain, presenting significant challenges for the 4,150 total fire personnel assigned as of Monday morning.

A National Weather Service-issued red flag warning continues through Monday for many parts of Northern California.

Evacuations still in place, 15 centers set up

Updated at 7 a.m.

All mandatory evacuation orders in place Sunday evening remain in place Monday, according to Cal Fire and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

The sweeping evacuation area includes 10 “zones” that include the entire towns of Geyserville, Healdsburg and Windsor, plus a northern portion of Santa Rosa.

As of 5:18 a.m., Sonoma County says eight shelters are open for evacuees while seven others remain at capacity.

The open shelters include the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, the Petaluma Cummnity Center, Muir Memory Care in Petaluma, Iglesia Cristiana in Petaluma, Napa Valley Expo, CrossWalk Community Church in Napa, and St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.

The shelters at capacity are Petaluma Valley Baptist Church, Calvary Chapel of Petaluma, the Petaluma fairgrounds and veterans building, the Marin County Fairgrounds in San Rafael, New Life Church in Santa Rosa, and Napa Valley College.

The Alameda County and Petaluma fairgrounds are each open as shelters for large animals.

Two firefighters injured, latest status unknown

Updated at 7 a.m.

Two Cal Fire personnel fighting the Kincade Fire have been injured, the agency said in a Sunday evening news conference.

One of the firefighters suffered serious injuries and was transported to a burn center in Sacramento, while the other firefighter’s injuries were minor and treated at a local hospital.

No further details were available early Monday on the seriously injured firefighter’s status.

No civilian injuries or fatalities have been reported in connection with the Kincade Fire.

Schools closed across Sonoma

Updated at 7 a.m.

All schools across all 40 Sonoma County public school districts will be closed Monday and Tuesday, the county’s office of education says.

The county will reassess the status for any closures needed Wednesday through Friday of this week.

Updates will be given each day at 4 p.m., the Sonoma County Office of Education says on its website.

70,000 homes in danger

Updated at 7 a.m.

Cal Fire’s latest incident report provides a breakdown of the 79,675 structures considered to be threatened by the Kincade Fire.

An estimated 70,425 of those structures are residences, 750 are commercial buildings and the remaining 8,500 are denoted “other,” a category that often includes outbuildings and other auxiliary structures.

Over 1 million PG&E customers lost power

Updated at 7 a.m.

PG&E said Sunday that its planned blackout ended up affecting 965,000 customers, and another 100,000 homes and businesses serviced by PG&E lost power unexpectedly Sunday due to extreme winds.

Another planned power shutoff is tentatively set for Tuesday morning, with PG&E announcing it is considering cutting power to parts of 32 counties.

Mark Quinlan, PG&E’s senior director of emergency preparedness, said Sunday that about 500,000 customers have received initial warning notices, but that figure could change before Tuesday morning.

In a tweet just after midnight, PG&E said Tuesday’s event could affect 520,000 to 640,000 customers across 35 counties.

Map of Kincade Fire

The Kincade Fire evacuation area is inside the part of Sonoma County that PG&E shut down power on Thursday. Close the map key to view the map by pressing the "X" at the right.
Source: Sonoma County

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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