Kincade Fire in Sonoma County chars 16,000 acres with 5% containment
A wildfire in Sonoma County that has 2,000 people under evacuation orders started near where Pacific Gas & Electric shut down power amid dangerous weather conditions, the utility giant said Thursday.
There were no immediate reports of injuries, but 49 structures have been destroyed.
The fire started about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and by Thursday evening had spread to 16,000 acres and is at 5% containment Cal Fire said. The cause was not yet known, but strong, dry winds with gusts of up to 70 mph have affected much of the state, including that area.
About 900 people live in the town of Geyserville and everyone there was ordered to evacuate.
Harry Bosworth, 81, who ignored initial warnings to leave, awoke before sunrise to find a firetruck and firefighters in his driveway.
"I could see the fire coming, so we got the heck out of there," Bosworth said
But not everyone ordered to leave followed orders, and firefighters were going door to door to talk to people about the importance of adhering to evacuation orders.
An evacuation order remains in effect for the unincorporated area north of Healdsburg.
California Highway Patrol warned of a possible closure to Highway 101 if the fire continues to grow. Officers told drivers they should plan ahead and be prepared in case that happens.
Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter said at a press conference alongside Gov. Gavin Newsom that the fire has posed a lot of challenges and crews have a long way to go in the firefight.
"We have deployed one of our incident management teams on that fire. And I expect by nightfall we’ll start to see some containment numbers coming up," Porter said. "Still, a lot of challenges are there. Six hundred homes were evacuated, and an additional 200 are precautionary."
Cal Fire Div. Chief Johnathan Cox said additional resources were ready to go even before the Kincade Fire began, something that's become customary under high fire danger with dry weather and gusty winds.
There were 15 fire engines on standby, provided by local government agencies and Cal OES. Porter said those engines in addition to Cal Fire resources have helped minimize some of the damage.
Cox echoed Porter in saying the fight to bring the Kincade Fire under control has been a difficult one.
Gov. Newsom announced Thursday that he secured federal aid to support the Kincade Fire response saying, "We are grateful for the swift approval of our request to ensure all resources are available to support the heroic work of our firefighters and first responders working to contain this fire and keep local communities safe."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.