Wind-whipped wildfire forcing evacuations near wineries, casino in Sonoma County

The Kincade Fire in northeast Sonoma County exploded to 10,000 acres morning as it continued to burn out-of-control in a westerly direction and was zero percent contained. Oct. 24, 2019 ( Mathew Henderson )

The Kincade Fire in northeast Sonoma County exploded to 10,000 acres morning as it continued to burn out-of-control in a westerly direction and was zero percent contained, Cal Fire announced early Thursday morning.

Just before 6 a.m., the fire crossed state Route 128 and residents living nearby were forced to leave their homes to avoid the raging flames and thick smoke choking the air. A total of 16 schools in two districts also decided to close because of the shifting winds. 

List of school closures because of Kincade Fire

Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Juan Valencia described the region between Geyserville and Healdsburg as rugged and rural. There are several ranches and vineyards in this area, which is north of River Rock Casino. Some of the nearby wineries include the Stella Vineyards and Wine Caves, the Truett Hurst and the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. 

The CalFire report early in the morning only had two structures burned, but KTVU's cameras captured what appeared to be a winery burned on Geysers Road and other structures up in flames. No injuries had been reported as of Thursday morning. 

There are several ranches and vineyards in this area, which is north of River Rock Casino. Some of the nearby wineries include the Stella Vineyards and Wine Caves, the Truett Hurst and the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Oct. 24, 2019

The blaze was first reported about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday off Kincade Road east of Cloverdale, hours after PG&E had started its second round of power safety shutoffs in 17 counties. Nearly 30,000 people in Sonoma County were without power as of Wednesday afternoon into Thursday. 

Matt Ceglarski-Sherwin left his home in the wee hours of the morning to take shelter at the Healdsburg Community Center, which provided battery charging stations and a big parking lot to accept livestock and pets for evacuated residents. He said he has moved six times since the Tubbs Fire of 2017. "We're hoping that we still have a place to live when we go back," he said.

Geyserville is in the heart of Wine Country and has a pedestrian-friendly strip of restaurants, bed and breakfasts and wineries. It is located on state Route 128 close to US Highway 101. The population hovers around 1,000 people. 

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for:

  • The entire community of Geyserville
  • Cloverdale Geysers Road
  • Red Winery Road
  • Alexander Mountain Road
  • Pine Flat Road
  • All roads east of state Highway 128 to Geyserville

In addition, residents  north Healdsburg are under an evacuation warning.

Authorities also closed these roads:

  • Cloverdale Geyers Road
  • Geysers Road
  • Red Winery Road
  • Alexander Mountain Road
  • Pine Flat Road

Two evacuation centers opened at Windsor High School, 8695 Windsor Rd. in Windsor and the Healdsburg Community Center at 1557 Healdsburg Ave. in Healdsburg. At 8 a.m., the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa was poised to open, as the Windsor site was poised to close. 

Cal Fire Batallion Chief Will Powers simply said, "Get out!" when asked what residents should do if they are told to leave the area. Officials were diligent in tweeting, calling and sending out notices in both English and Spanish. 

Wind speeds at two PG&E weather stations in the vicinity of the fire were sustained at more than 50 mph, with gusts greater than 70 mph, around midnight said Matt Mehle, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

 A Red Flag Warning remains in effect until 4 p.m. Thursday.

More than 300 firefighters were trying to put out the Kincade Fire in the wee hours of Oct. 24, 2019

KTVU reporters Cristina Rendon, Allie Rasmus, Andre Torrez, Daniel Radovich, Lisa Fernandez and Hau Kuiang contributed to this report.