Fires

Firefighters wary of afternoon winds as Berryessa blaze grows to 6,700 acres

Cal Fire crews work on the Wragg Fire near Winters Thursday.
Cal Fire crews work on the Wragg Fire near Winters Thursday. rbenton@sacbee.com

This video was taken Wednesday by Justin Majeczky, a freelance multimedia specialist, as the Wragg fire raged across rugged terrain near Lake Berryessa. Majeczky's account: "A wildfire started yesterday in the hills by Lake Berryessa. I was lucky enough to live close and see the fire starting early. I quickly grabbed my camera gear and ran to go shoot some time lapses of the massive fire. I drove all around Yolo County and parts of Winters to capture this footage." Video by Justin Majeczky, Varient3 Productions, www.varient3.com

Firefighters are concerned that afternoon winds will spur a wildfire burning in rural in Napa and Solano counties.

The firefight to contain a raging wildland blaze on brush-covered, rugged terrain near Lake Berryessa continued Thursday as fire officials said the fire had grown from 4,000 acres on Wednesday to 6,710 acres by Thursday.

The Wragg fire, named for a canyon in the fire zone, is still just 5 percent contained, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported.

The fire has damaged one home and destroyed an outbuilding and a tent trailer. Meanwhile, firefighters are watching for swaying treetops, which would be indicative of the same type of winds that drove the fire with intensity on Wednesday.

“We are expecting high winds again today,” said Suzie Blankenship, public information officer for Cal Fire. “That would be a challenge for us. It does not appear that the winds have kicked up yet this morning, but they are expected.”

Firefighters made headway on the fire in the early morning Thursday when the weather was cool and humid. Cal Fire Capt. Amy Head said the winds forecast for this afternoon were expected to blow at about 20 mph, instead of the 25 mph experienced on Wednesday.

“A fire like this will probably take weeks to contain,” said Head who was near Highway 128 and Pleasant Valley Road.

The number of personnel on the scene more than doubled to 1,300 men and women on Thursday. Cal Fire reported a total of 161 engines, 4 air tankers, 10 helicopters, 48 bulldozers and 17 water tenders were being used to fight the blaze.

Fire officials initially reported that the Wragg fire was sparked by a vehicle accident. However, the cause is now officially listed as “under investigation.”

Firefighters worked through the night, protecting homes and trying to contain the spreading blaze.

The fire started near the southeast corner of Lake Berryessa about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

It initially burned off Highway 128 near the Napa-Yolo county line in steep terrain that made access difficult. The highway remained closed Thursday at Wragg Canyon.

Smoke from the blaze blew into Sacramento and Yolo counties on Wednesday but the skies on Thursday had cleared in many communities.

“This morning we woke up and, quite surprisingly, it was pretty clear,” said Bruni Aguirre, a hostess at the Putah Creek Cafe in the Yolo County town of Winters. “On Wednesday, in the afternoon, when the fire was really raging, all of Winters was really bad. It’s cleared up today.”

About 200 structures are threatened in the Quail Ridge community, officials said. The Quail Canyon and Golden Bear communities were under mandatory evacuation orders. Canyon Creek and Lake Solano campgrounds have been evacuated.

The Red Cross opened an evacuation center in the Winters Community Center, 201 Railroad Ave. in Winters. An evacuation center for large animals also was opened at 29775 County Road 31, Winters.

Firefighters are concerned that afternoon winds will spur the wildfire burning in rural in Napa and Solano counties which has already grown to more than 6710 acres. Video interview by Edward Ortiz, photographs by Jose Luis Villegas. The Sacramento

Flying over the Putah Creek flank of the Wragg fire, a CHP helicopter heads for its target to deliver water onto the tenacious blaze that started Wednesday afternoon. Video by Jose Luis Villegas, The Sacramento Bee.

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