Tens of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes in Napa and Sonoma valleys in California on Monday, September 28th, as wildfires intensified by powerful winds tore the famous wine region apart.
Vineyards were consumed and buildings ruined by the blaze that dispersed at a ‘dangerous rate’ through 11,000 acres (4,500 hectares) and was out of control, the state’s fire agency Cal Fire said.
Famous Napa wineries have already burnt severely, including Chateau Boswell and part of Castello di Amorosa. The buildings on the margins of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County’s largest town, have also suffered a ‘significant loss,’ fire chief Tony Gossner said.
“We saved the winery last night, but everything else was lost,” Tuck Beckstoffer, president of a 20-acre vineyard near St. Helena, told Wine Spectator magazine.
The Glass Fire
Around 34,000 residents have been forced to evacuate, and around 14,000 more were ordered to prepare to leave immediately, as ‘explosive fire growth’ expanded through dry vegetation and difficult mountainous terrain, officials reported.
Calistoga, a charming community at the top of the Napa Valley famous for its hot springs and as a launchpad for wine tours, has mainly been evacuated. The fire is menacing communities in Napa and Sonoma, still rcovering from devastating blazes in 2017, when 44 people died, and thousands of buildings were completely destroyed.
On Monday, strong winds increased to 55 mph, blowing ashes and scattering the blaze, which was named the ‘Glass Fire.’ According to California governor Gavin Newsom, the winds will ‘stabilize overnight, which should help with our efforts to take advantage of those conditions.’ Over 1,000 firefighters struggled to take control of the flames in the region that has been hit by blazes over and over again, Newsom added.
Kale Casey, a spokesperson for firefighter efforts at the blaze, said winds had already been ‘pulling’ flames away from controlled areas before Sunday’s extreme winds.