Kincade Fire rages on, new evacuation warnings as wind event looms

Cal Fire told KTVU Saturday morning that the Kincade Fire grew about 2,000 acres overnight, to 25,455 acres. Containment rose from 5-percent to 10-percent. Cal Fire is concerned about the winds picking up, and causing flames to act erractically, making the fire even more difficult to put out.

A new evacuation warning was issued Friday night for the Cobb Mountain surrounding communities in Lake County. The communities under the evacuation warning include Adams Springs, Hobergs, Cobb, Whispering Pines, Gifford Springs, Anderson Springs and those residents living on Ford flat Road and Socrates Mine Road, according to Cal Fire. 

A warning is not a mandatory evacuation, the agency stressed, saying that "Residents who need extra time to evacuate in the event of a mandatory evacuation are encouraged to prepare now. Please prepare yourself by gathering your pets, essential items and medications and have them ready to go in case an evacuation order is issued."

Evacuation orders were given Friday night at 10:30 p.m. for areas of Sonoma County including Alexander and Knights Valley. You should evacuate Ida Clayton Road, north to Highland Ranch Road at Campbell Road, east of the 101 between Asti Road and Alexander Valley Road to the Mendocino/Lake County line, including Lakeview Road and extending south along the Lake/Sonoma County line to Ida Clayton Road, according to Cal Fire.  

You couldn't help but notice that, down in the flat areas around Geyserville and Healdsburg, the smoke became increasingly thick. But it's up there in the Mayacama Mountains where the endless smoke is coming from.

As soon as they could see the ground, helicopters, Cal Fire planes and large prop and jet tankers again dropped load after load of retardant and water to keep the fire from running completely wild.

"We've got a lot of aerial resources available to us. Thankfully, they're able to fly in these conditions that we're seeing in the last couple days." said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Amy Head.

As that goes on hundreds an hundreds of hand crew men and women, are facing the fire, often armed with just hand tools.

"They're cutting line to create these containment lines around the fire. So it's really important that we start to build the containment line around the entire fire and we're working as hard and as fast as we can to get those in," said Chief Head.

One of the region's biggest windstorms in years comes on Saturday.

Among a countless number of trouble spots, a roadside fire slowly burned up a hillside. The wind wasn't even blowing.

So, when the big winds come on Saturday, this could flare up into a major fire because everything above it is fuel.

"It's gonna be a real test when these winds pick up to see if our lines hold," said Chief Head.

At 2,700 feet in altitude, the former 1800s town of Mercuryville, now a ghost town, population not two, but zero, though damaged still has it's one remaining building thanks to fire crews.

Watching the flames of the Kincade Fire from Geyserville. (Tim Walton)

In more populated ares, a downed pole and power line signifies that power on this circuit won't be returning soon.

In fact, until this and the other damage is repaired, and we saw plenty, power here will be a while in coming. Another very real problem, downed trees, in many locations, blocked roads for first responders.

Near Calpine's geothermal plant we saw numerous open flame and smoldering hotspots which could be re-whipped into a frenzy over the weekend.  

These fires, denude hillsides of vegetation creating a danger of rainy season land and mudslide.

A structure lights on fire because of the Kincade Fire. Oct. 25, 2019 (Tim Walton)

But even now, the danger of landslides and rock falls are very real and thwart fire fighting.

Worst of all, big winds are coming soon. "So we're worried about any hot embers or of hot material vegetation that's burning within the fire perimeter that will the winds can pick up and blow embers outside of our lines," said Chief Head.