This is a developing story. Check this page for more updates.

More than a dozen large wildfires continue to burn in California, most of them in the state’s wine country. At least 23 deaths have been blamed on the blazes. Hundreds of thousands of acres have burned and thousands of homes and other structures have been destroyed.

[Fast-moving wildfires ravage Northern California's wine country, forcing evacuations]

A neighborhood in northern Santa Rosa (Google Earth and California Highway Patrol)

The Tubbs fire, the largest blaze in Sonoma County, started late Sunday night in Calistoga before spreading to Santa Rosa according to a Cal Fire official. It’s estimated the fire has burned 27,000 acres.

Active fires detected by satellite

as of 2 p.m. PT Monday

 

101

Calistoga

TUBBS

FIRE

NORTH

Santa

Rosa

ATLAS PEAK RD.

Sonoma

Petaluma

Napa

ATLAS

FIRE

101

10 MILES

80

San Pablo

Bay

Vallejo

80

1

Detail

Berkeley

CALIF.

San Francisco

Active fires detected by

satellite as of 2 p.m. PT Monday

 

10 MILES

Calistoga

TUBBS FIRE

ATLAS PEAK RD.

Santa

Rosa

505

ATLAS FIRE

Vacaville

Napa

Sonoma

1

Fairfield

Petaluma

101

Vallejo

Pt. Reyes

Nat’l Seashore

San Pablo

Bay

80

Detail

Pacific

Ocean

Berkeley

CALIF.

San Francisco

A second fire—the Atlas Fire—started off Atlas Peak Road before burning southwest to just outside of the city of Napa, according to Cal Fire, which confirmed two deaths in the blaze and Napa County. The fast-moving fire is also estimated to have destroyed 25,000 acres.

There are at least two other fires in Sonoma and Napa counties with another happening just north in Mendocino County near Redwood Valley as of Monday evening. One person was killed in the Mendocino County fire. The sheriff of Sonoma County has confirmed seven additional deaths.

How these fires got so bad

A big ridge of high pressure has lingered just east of California’s mountains this month over the Great Basin. In this type of weather pattern, wind from the east rises on the mountain’s upslope, which causes moisture to condense. Clouds form and sometimes it rains on that side of the mountains, removing moisture.

Winds then crest over the ridge and sink. As the air moves along the downslope, it is compressed by the change in pressure, causing the wind to become faster, hotter and dryer making conditions for wildfires worse.

A satellite view of smoke from the wildfires in Northern California. High winds fueled the fires, which spread quickly.

Millions of acres burned in the U.S. each year from Jan. 1 to Oct. 6

8.5 million

10 million acres

8

6

4

2

0

2015

2009

2017

2007

2011

2013

10 million acres

8.5 million

8

6

4

2

0

2007

2009

2011

2013

2015

2017

In the last ten years, there have been only two other seasons with more acres burned. In 2015, more than 9.1 million acres had burned by this time in the year. Major fires in Montana as well as in Oregon forced hundreds to evacuate as smoke drifted into the atmosphere across the country.

Red dots are fires detected by NASA’s TERRA/MODIS satellite in 2017

Mandatory evacuation

Santa Rosa issued a mandatory evacuation of its residents in affected areas at 10 a.m. PT Monday morning after the city manager declared the fires a local emergency. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) also declared a state emergency as fires continued to rip through northern and southern parts of the state.

SANTA ROSA

EVACUATION ZONE

Fountaingrove

101

DOWNTOWN

12

2 MILES

SANTA ROSA

EVACUATION ZONE

Fountaingrove

101

DOWNTOWN

1 MILE

12

Several neighborhoods in northern Santa Rosa were almost completely burned to the ground including Fountaingrove, according to Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott, who spoke with the Los Angeles Times.

“It’s fair to say it’s been destroyed,” he said of the Fountaingrove neighborhood.

Laris Karklis, John Muyskens, Aaron Williams, Aaron Steckelberg, Angela Fritz and Tim Meko contributed to this report.

About this story

Evacuation data from the Santa Rosa Fire Department. Active fire data from the NOAA Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke database. GOES-16 Satellite imagery from the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere.

Originally published Oct. 9, 2017.

Share

Most Read

Follow Post Graphics