'Immediate threat to life:' Mandatory evacuation orders issued for Hennessey Fire in North Bay

The LNU Complex of fires, started by a barrage of lightning strikes, is now burning in five counties -- Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Yolo and Lake, Cal Fire officials said Wednesday.

In all, 367 new fires sparked in California because of lightning strikes, officials said. Of those, 60 are in the LNU Complex.

Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate. An exact number was not immediately available, but up to 12,000 in Sonoma County alone have been told to leave their homes for safety.

The fires are so serious, Cal Fire officials said they pose an "immediate threat to life."

The LNU complex includes an array of conflagrations, including the Hennessey and Gamble fires, across the North Bay. Cal Fire said they had burned 46,000 acres earlier on Wednesday morning. 

Cal Fire requested 375 fire engines from out of states and hand crews to help across the state because demand surpasses resources they’re stretched thin. The state is also dealing with limited support from firefighting aircraft due to poor air quality.

"Extreme fire behavior with short and long range spotting are continuing to challenge firefighting efforts," Cal Fire said on its website.

There was zero containment reported as of 7 a.m. Wednesday. A total of 50 structures have been destroyed, 50 have been damaged and 1,900 are threatened by this sprawling group of fires. 

Another of those is the Wallbridge fire in Sonoma County. Officials said weather conditions deteriorated Wednesday and the wind directions became unpredictable. The fire is pushing southeast as firefighters try to hold fire between Sweetwater Springs and Mill Creek Road. It pressed toward the Russian River communities of Guerneville and Rio Nido on Wednesday. As many as 15,700 Sonoma County residents are impacted by evacuation orders and warnings throughout the county, officials said. 

The Hennessey Fire is one of three main fires now being called the LNU Lightning Complex Fires, which had burned 46,000 acres. Aug. 19, 2020

Several thousand people fall into evacuation warning zones as a result of the fire in northwest Sonoma County west of Healdsburg that grew to an estimated 1,500 acres overnight.

"If there's an evacuation order, adhere to that order," said Sean Kavanaugh, a Cal Fire statewide incident commander who is overseeing the LNU Complex firefighting effort.

Kavanaugh added, "If you feel any type of threat at all, make that decision please to leave your home."

Kavanaugh said the weather Wednesday -- with extreme heat and the potential of hot, dry winds -- will work against firefighting efforts.

The Hennessey Fire is burning along Pleasants Valley Road near Vacaville. Aug. 19, 2020

"We're in this for a long haul," he said.

Cal Fire said that these are the mandatory evacuations for this group of fires. If you think you're in danger, leave.

Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick says "If you hear high low sirens from patrol cars in your neighborhood that means it’s time to go."

The lightning stirke introduction to fire season converging with the pandemic, poses a new challenge of where to go and the resources available if residents are being asked to evacuate, physically distance, and figure out what type of mask to wear for intersecting crisis. 

Six temporary evacuation points have been established, county health officials said. Residents seeking shelter should be prepared to identify themselves. Safety precautions are in place due to COVID-19, including temperature checks, as well as testing in cases for those who may have symptoms of the novel coronavirus. People who are symptomatic may be sheltered in hotels on a case-by-case basis, officials said. 

Evacuation facilities in the line of fire are in the process of making alternate plans if need be, but Sonoma County officials have said there is currently space available for evacuees. 

Napa County evacuation orders:

  • Highway 121 (from Wooden Valley Road to Silverado Trail)
  • Pope Valley Road (from Aetna Springs Road to Chiles Pope Valley Road)
  • Aetna Springs Road (from Pope Valley to the dead end)
  • Butts Canyon Road (from Aetna Springs Road to Lake County line
  • James Creek Road (from Butts Canyon Road to the dead end)
  • Highway 128 from Lower Chiles Valley Road to Monticello Road
  • Highway 128 from Chiles Pope Valley Road to Lower Chiles Valley Road
  • Chiles Pope Valley Road from Highway 128 to Lower Chiles Valley Road
  • All of Hennessey Ridge Road.
  • From Moskowite Corner to Wooden Valley Rd, Including the community of Circle Oaks
  • Atlas Peak from the Bubbing Well Pet Cemetary at 2462 Atlas Peak Rd to the dead end
  • From Loma Vista Rd / Soda Canyon Rd to the dead end.
  • All of Steele Canyon Rd from Hwy 128 to and including the Berryessa Highlands Sub Divison
  • Wragg Canyon Rd - from Hwy 128 to the end of the road, including Pleasure Cove Resort
  • Chiles Pope Valley Road - From Lower Chiles Valley Road to Pope Canyon Road

Sonoma County evacuation orders:

  • North of Austin Creek Recreational Area
  • East of The Cedars
  • Mill Creek Road west of the intersection of Puccioni Road
  • South of Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road
  • West of West Dry Creek Road and Westside Road
  • North of Sweetwater Springs Road and McCray Ridge Road
  • East of the East Austin Creek (the actual creek)

There are also several evacuation warnings in Sonoma County, according to Cal Fire and the sheriff's office

Mandatory evacuation orders issued for Hennessey Fire residents in rural Napa County

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A line of the Hennessey Fire in the Vacaville area. Aug. 19, 2020

Mandatory evacuation orders of residences and commercial buildings along Steele Canyon Road from state Highway 128 (near the state Highway 121 junction) northeast to the Berryessa Highlands housing development just south of Lake Berryessa were issued Tuesday evening.

In Solano County, residents west of Blue Ridge Road to Interstate Highway 505 and north of Cherry Glen Road to state Highway 128 are instructed to evacuate immediately, the Solano County Sheriff's Office said.

The Vacaville Fire Protection District also announced that an evacuation order is in effect for the English Hills area north of Vacaville.

The Fairfield Police Department has also issued advisories for the residential areas east of Interstate Highway 80 north of Manuel Campos Road; residential areas west of Highway 80 off of Hilborn and Lyon roads; and residential areas near Rancho Solano Parkway.

Additionally, due to the fires, Highway 128 has been closed between the Napa County line and Pleasants Valley Road.

The following evacuation shelters have been set up:

  • Crosswalk Community Church – 2950 First Street, Napa
  • McBride Senior Center – 91 Town Square Place, Vacaville
  • Ulatis Cultural Center – 1000 Ultatis Drive, Vacaville
  • Vacaville Skate Center – 551 Davis Street, Vacaville
  • Eugene Padan Elementary School – 200 Padan School Road, Vacaville
  • Fairmont Charter School – 1355 Marshall Road, Vacaville
  • Sierra Vista Elementary School – 310 Bel Air Drive, Vacaville
  • Will C. Wood High School – 998 Marshall Road, Vacaville
  • You can take animals and pets to the following places:
  • Napa County Animal Shelter – Call (707) 967-4207 for large animals
  • Sonoma County Fairgrounds – Accepting large animals
  • Solano County Fairgrounds - Accepting large animals
  • Solano County Animal Shelter – Accepting small pets

24-hour information line: (707) 967-4207

Mental Health Resources (Sonoma County): 

(707) 565-2652  10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Crisis line : (707) 576-8181