CALISTOGA, Calif. (KTVU) - The City of Calistoga remained evacuated Tuesday night with its 5,000 residents scattered hither, thither, and yon.
Calistoga, famous for its hot springs, sits on a very thin area of the earth's crust with molten rock just below it. But, the big worry is the threat from the mountains above in the form of wildfire.
Before the dawn's early light, it became painfully obvious why city officials evacuated the city Monday afternoon.
"The proximity of the fire is less than a mile to the city limit proper of Calistoga," said Calistoga Fire Department spokesman Jaime Orozco.
This time, as opposed to the Tubbs Fire of 2017, it's truly a double threat to the city.
"It's surrounding us from the south end and kind of encompassing us from the northeastern end as well. While there's very little wind you can actually look up in the hills and see there's enough wind to make the fire very, very aggressive," said Orozco. " So, what the fire is trying to do is burn its way down and get onto Highway 29. That's unlikely, but trees could easily fall into the path of cars."
Local businessman George Kulya thinks firefighters could and should be more aggressive.
"Fire like this is easy to take care of, easy to stop because of no wind. The fire comes slow on down, like I don't know, very slow. I'm very confused about this," Kulya said.
Calistoga has had its run of bad luck. First the recession, then came closures due to wildfires, next the COVID-19 pandemic, then another recession, and now more closures due to the fires which threaten every building in the city.
"I think there's a sense of stress and kind of added confusion if you will or nervousness that comes along with all this. I think it's been shown, the resiliency throughout our communities, whether it be the Napa Valley, Sonoma County," said Orozco.
Before 2020, the worst fire year California had seen was in 2018 when 2 million acres went up in flames. This year, the state will break 4 million acres, more than double.