'Everybody I know is on edge' from Snell Fire says Berryessa Estates resident

Firefighters continued Sunday night in their battle against the Snell Fire in Napa County.

Small fires dot the landscape in the Berryessa Estates community where firefighters armed with flashlights navigated the dark terrain. 

“They’re basically looking at hotspots and things using hand tools. (They are) physically getting in there and putting out the fire as it burns down to the creek,” said Paul Lowenthal, a spokesperson for Cal Fire.

By Sunday night, the fire remained steady at 2,400 acres of land burned and 20% containment. The acreage was up but only modestly compared to Saturday afternoon when the fire started and quickly ballooned to 1,700 acres in a matter of hours.

“They’ve had a fire truck parked right in front of there and I think the fire went all the day down to the creek right on the other side of the road from us and I believe it’s moving toward Berryessa,” said Bill Collins, who evacuated his home in Berryessa Estates on Saturday.

With his wife and pets, Collins has been staying in an R.V. at a park in nearby Hidden Lakes and has monitored the condition of his home via a security camera accessed through his phone.

Snell Valley Road, which is the sole thoroughfare providing access in or out of Berryessa Estates, has been closed at the intersection of Butts Canyon Road and a California Highway Patrol officer controlled access.

About 30 minutes away, the Pope Valley Farm Center was used by families who were forced to evacuate.

Gail Bickett sat in the bed of her partner’s truck listening to scanner traffic for updates on the fires and the fate of the neighborhood.

“We’ve got through it so many times and everybody I know is on edge,” Bickett said.

She and Robert Thompson are living out of an R.V. at the Pope Valley Farm Center until it is safe to return home.

“Unscheduled vacation again. I was at work yesterday and she called me up and said yeah somebody saw smoke,” said Thompson.

Residents of Berryessa Estates say they know their neighborhood will always be under threat of fire, so they’ve taken it upon themselves to be proactive by taking part in a program called FireWise.

“Our biggest job is fuel reduction,” said John Hallman.

Hallman says the organization has been given grant money from Napa County, which was used to hire inmates to help clear brush in the Berryessa Estates neighborhood, which he says has helped the current fire fight.

“I’m sure it did. I’ve had 20 phone calls from people that feel that. I don’t think our community could withstand a major hit.”

Cal Fire reports 180 structures are threatened by the flames, but say their crews have been successful at stopping damage.