Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Governor Newsom asks Donald Trump for federal aid as California wildfires kill at least three, force nearly 70,000 evacuations and more wineries are completely devastated in Napa Valley

 Three people were confirmed to have died in California's wildfires on Monday, as the northern wine country was on fire and nearly 70,000 people evacuated from their homes.

Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday night issued an emergency proclamation for the counties of Napa, Sonoma and Shasta due to the Glass and Zogg fires, which have burned tens of thousands of acres, destroyed homes and critical infrastructure and caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents. 

Newsom also sent a letter to Donald Trump requesting a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to assist state and local wildfire response and recovery efforts in the counties of Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, San Bernardino, San Diego and Siskiyou. 

The Glass Fire burns in the background as Josh Asbury, an employee of CableCom, installs fiber optic cable in Calistoga, California

The Glass Fire burns in the background as Josh Asbury, an employee of CableCom, installs fiber optic cable in Calistoga, California

Napa Valley residents Matthew Rivard and Amanda Crean watch the Glass Fire burn in Calistoga, California. Nearly 70,000 people evacuated from their homes in the northern wine country

Napa Valley residents Matthew Rivard and Amanda Crean watch the Glass Fire burn in Calistoga, California. Nearly 70,000 people evacuated from their homes in the northern wine country

Trees and vegetation burn near Pickett Road towards the Kenefick Ranch Vineyard & Winery during the Glass Fire near Calistoga on Monday

Trees and vegetation burn near Pickett Road towards the Kenefick Ranch Vineyard & Winery during the Glass Fire near Calistoga on Monday

A statue of the Virgin Mary stands at the entrance of a residence in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California

A statue of the Virgin Mary stands at the entrance of a residence in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California

A vineyard is seen as the Glass Fire burns in the mountains above the town of Calistoga in Napa County on Monday

A vineyard is seen as the Glass Fire burns in the mountains above the town of Calistoga in Napa County on Monday

The remains of a destroyed home as the Glass Fire burns near the town of St. Helena in Napa County

The remains of a destroyed home as the Glass Fire burns near the town of St. Helena in Napa County

A rocking horse is charred in the playground at Foothills Elementary School after the Glass Fire passed through Napa Valley

A rocking horse is charred in the playground at Foothills Elementary School after the Glass Fire passed through Napa Valley

The remains of one of the buildings at Foothills Elementary School after the Glass Fire scorched its way through Napa Valley

The remains of one of the buildings at Foothills Elementary School after the Glass Fire scorched its way through Napa Valley

A burned out car is seen next to a house reduced to ashes by the Glass Fire, which was sparked in the early hours of Sunday

A burned out car is seen next to a house reduced to ashes by the Glass Fire, which was sparked in the early hours of Sunday

The Zogg Fire, which ignited on Sunday afternoon at 4pm, forced the evacuation of more than 1,200 people, spreading over 23 square miles by Monday

The Zogg Fire, which ignited on Sunday afternoon at 4pm, forced the evacuation of more than 1,200 people, spreading over 23 square miles by Monday

The three fatalities were confirmed in Shasta County, 200 miles north of Sacramento, near Redding - taking the state total to 28 this year, according to Cal Fire

The Zogg Fire, which ignited on Sunday afternoon at 4pm, forced the evacuation of more than 1,200 people, spreading over 23 square miles by Monday.

Cal Fire said it was zero per cent contained, and had burned 31,000 acres so far.  


'It's with a sad heart that I come before you today,' said Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini, confirming the three fatalities.

He gave no details, instead urging residents to heed advice to leave. 

'When you get that order, evacuate immediately. Do not wait,' he said.

Residences are widely scattered in the forested area in the far northern part of the state. The region was torched just two years ago by the deadly Carr Fire — infamously remembered for producing a huge tornado-like fire whirl.

The causes of the new fires were under investigation.      

Firefighters survey ruins after wildfires sweep through Santa Rosa
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A scarecrow rests on a wooden chair in front of a residence in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California

A scarecrow rests on a wooden chair in front of a residence in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California

The Glass Fire burns along a hillside in Calistoga, California. The Glass Fire broke out before 4am Sunday and merged with two other fires to scorch more than 56 square miles as of Monday

The Glass Fire burns along a hillside in Calistoga, California. The Glass Fire broke out before 4am Sunday and merged with two other fires to scorch more than 56 square miles as of Monday

A vineyard is left burned in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California. Officials did not have an estimate of the number of homes destroyed or burned, but the blaze engulfed the Chateau Boswell Winery in St. Helena and at least one five-star resort, Meadowood.

A vineyard is left burned in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California. Officials did not have an estimate of the number of homes destroyed or burned, but the blaze engulfed the Chateau Boswell Winery in St. Helena and at least one five-star resort, Meadowood.

Napa Valley residents Matthew Rivard and Amanda Crean look towards embers from the Glass Fire in Calistoga, California

Napa Valley residents Matthew Rivard and Amanda Crean look towards embers from the Glass Fire in Calistoga, California 

The remains of a vehicle and home are seen in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California

The remains of a vehicle and home are seen in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California

Home appliances are seen destroyed in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California

Home appliances are seen destroyed in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California

Foothills Adventist Elementary School was still burning on Monday from the Glass Fire in St. Helena, Napa County

Foothills Adventist Elementary School was still burning on Monday from the Glass Fire in St. Helena, Napa County

Peter Emerson, 61, saves an injured cat he found wandering the streets after his home burned to the ground in Deer Park

Peter Emerson, 61, saves an injured cat he found wandering the streets after his home burned to the ground in Deer Park

Jessie Whitman from Napa Valley is pictured with a donkey that was being rescued during the Glass Fire in Napa County

Jessie Whitman from Napa Valley is pictured with a donkey that was being rescued during the Glass Fire in Napa County

Two donkeys are given water prior to their rescue from the Glass Fire in Napa County, California, on Monday

Two donkeys are given water prior to their rescue from the Glass Fire in Napa County, California, on Monday

The remains of a vehicle and home are seen in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California

The remains of a vehicle and home are seen in the aftermath of the Glass Fire in Deer Park, California

'Our firefighters have not had much of a break, and these residents have not had much of a break,' said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire

'Our firefighters have not had much of a break, and these residents have not had much of a break,' said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire

Meanwhile, in Sonoma County, residents of the Oakmont Gardens senior living facility in Santa Rosa boarded brightly lit city buses in the darkness overnight, some wearing bathrobes and using walkers. They wore masks to protect against the coronavirus as orange flames marked the dark sky.

The fire threat forced Adventist Health St. Helena hospital to suspend care and transfer all patients elsewhere. 

The fires that began Sunday in the famed Napa-Sonoma wine country about 45 miles north of San Francisco came as the region nears the third anniversary of deadly wildfires that erupted in 2017, including one that killed 22 people. 

Just a month ago, many of those same residents were evacuated from the path of a lightning-sparked fire that became the fourth-largest in state history.

'Our firefighters have not had much of a break, and these residents have not had much of a break,' said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire. 

Newsom updates on battle to save Napa wine region from wildfires
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More than 68,000 people in Sonoma and Napa counties have been evacuated in the latest inferno, one of nearly 30 fire clusters burning across the state, said Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nichols

More than 68,000 people in Sonoma and Napa counties have been evacuated in the latest inferno, one of nearly 30 fire clusters burning across the state, said Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nichols

The burnt out remains of a structure and a car destroyed by the Glass Fire in Napa County, as it blazed along Sunnyside Road

The burnt out remains of a structure and a car destroyed by the Glass Fire in Napa County, as it blazed along Sunnyside Road

The Glass Fire in Napa County burns on a mountainside with the Beckstoffer Vinyards in the foreground

The Glass Fire in Napa County burns on a mountainside with the Beckstoffer Vinyards in the foreground

A deputy with the Napa County Sheriff's Office carries an injured cat near a property destroyed by the Glass Fire in Deer Park

A deputy with the Napa County Sheriff's Office carries an injured cat near a property destroyed by the Glass Fire in Deer Park

Locals stand in the Beckstoffer Vinyards and watch as firefighters try to contain the Glass Fire blazing behind the vines

Locals stand in the Beckstoffer Vinyards and watch as firefighters try to contain the Glass Fire blazing behind the vines

Cellar worker Jose Juan Perez extinguishes hotspots at Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, California, on Monday

Cellar worker Jose Juan Perez extinguishes hotspots at Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, California, on Monday

Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin evacuated her property in the Oakmont community of Santa Rosa at about 1am. 

She is rebuilding a home damaged in the 2017 fires.

Gorin said she saw three neighboring houses in flames as she fled early Monday.

'We're experienced with that,' she said of the fires. 

'Once you lose a house and represent thousands of folks who've lost homes, you become pretty fatalistic that this is a new way of life and, depressingly, a normal way of life, the megafires that are spreading throughout the West.'

More than 68,000 people in Sonoma and Napa counties have been evacuated in the latest inferno, one of nearly 30 fire clusters burning across the state, said Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nichols. 

Firefighters look on as a firefighting aircraft drops fire retardant on Monday, in a bid to stop the wildfires spreading

Firefighters look on as a firefighting aircraft drops fire retardant on Monday, in a bid to stop the wildfires spreading

Smoke rises over a vineyard in Calistoga on Monday as the fires continue to burn

Smoke rises over a vineyard in Calistoga on Monday as the fires continue to burn

Firefighters look on as a firefighting helicopter performs a water drop on Monday

Firefighters look on as a firefighting helicopter performs a water drop on Monday

The smoke-filled sky as the Glass Fire burns in the Napa Valley wine region near the town of Calistoga

The smoke-filled sky as the Glass Fire burns in the Napa Valley wine region near the town of Calistoga

Flames are seen licking towards the vines in St Helena, Napa County, on Monday

Flames are seen licking towards the vines in St Helena, Napa County, on Monday

Smoke hangs amongst charred trees on the hillside behind a vineyard in Napa Valley on Monday

Smoke hangs amongst charred trees on the hillside behind a vineyard in Napa Valley on Monday

In Napa County, the entire town of Calistoga, population around 5,000, was ordered to evacuate Monday evening. 

Many more residents have been warned that they might have to flee, even though winds eased significantly Monday afternoon, giving firefighters an opportunity to make some progress, he said.

'The smoky skies that we're under are a sign that there's not a lot of air movement out there moving the smoke around,' Nichols said at an evening briefing. 

'Not good for air quality, and folks outside exercising, but great for us to work on containing this fire and working on putting it out.'

The Glass Fire broke out before 4am Sunday and merged with two other fires to scorch more than 56 square miles as of Monday. There was no containment. 

Officials did not have an estimate of the number of homes destroyed or burned, but the blaze engulfed the Chateau Boswell Winery in St. Helena and at least one five-star resort, Meadowood.

The main building that housed the three Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood was reduced to rubble. 

The smoldering remains of the fire-ravaged Chateau Boswell winery along the famous famous Silverado Trail

The smoldering remains of the fire-ravaged Chateau Boswell winery along the famous famous Silverado Trail

Grapes hanging on Chateau Boswell's vines were scorched and burnt during the fire, but remained attached during the blaze

Grapes hanging on Chateau Boswell's vines were scorched and burnt during the fire, but remained attached during the blaze

Destroyed bottles of wine at the fire-ravaged Chateau Boswell winery along the famous famous Silverado Trail

Destroyed bottles of wine at the fire-ravaged Chateau Boswell winery along the famous famous Silverado Trail

Chateau Boswell, founded 40 years ago and praised for its eco-friendly wine growing, was destroyed in the Glass Fire

Chateau Boswell, founded 40 years ago and praised for its eco-friendly wine growing, was destroyed in the Glass Fire

A chimney still stands within the restaurant at Meadowood, a five star resort and spa that went in smoke

A chimney still stands within the restaurant at Meadowood, a five star resort and spa that went in smoke

Framing stands at the restaurant at Meadowood on Monday, after it was gutted by the uncontrollable wildfires

Framing stands at the restaurant at Meadowood on Monday, after it was gutted by the uncontrollable wildfires

The remains of a vehicle burned in the Glass Fire are seen by a home in Napa Valley

The remains of a vehicle burned in the Glass Fire are seen by a home in Napa Valley

Downed power lines and the remains of burned homes and vehicles remain after the Glass Fire passed through Napa Valley

Downed power lines and the remains of burned homes and vehicles remain after the Glass Fire passed through Napa Valley

Firefighters work to extinguish the flames of the Glass Fire burning near the town of St. Helena

Firefighters work to extinguish the flames of the Glass Fire burning near the town of St. Helena

Winery workers Carlos Perez, left, and Jose Juan Perez extinguish hotspots at Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga

Winery workers Carlos Perez, left, and Jose Juan Perez extinguish hotspots at Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga

A damaged vehicle and wine warehouse stand in Calistoga, at the Castello de Amorosa

A damaged vehicle and wine warehouse stand in Calistoga, at the Castello de Amorosa

Logan Hertel of Santa Rosa used a garden hose to fight flames at a neighbor's house in the Skyhawk neighborhood until firefighters could relieve him.

'Seems like they got enough on their hands already. So I wanted to step in and put out the fire,' Hertel told AP.

Dominic Wiggens, who lives in the same neighborhood, evacuated but returned later Monday. His home was still standing, but many others were gone. 

'It's so sad,' he said. 

Pacific Gas & Electric was inspecting its equipment as it sought to restore power to more than 100,000 customers who had it turned off in advance of gusty winds and in areas with active fire zones. The utility's equipment has caused previous disasters, including the 2018 Camp Fire that killed 85 people and devastated the town of Paradise in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

By Monday night, the utility said it had restored electricity to essentially all of those customers. 

However, PG&E said about 24,000 people remained without power in areas affected by two fires in Napa, Sonoma, Shasta and Tehama counties. 

Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, said 2020 has been challenging.

'The silver lining to it is that people who live in California become more prepared, they're more aware, they know these events take place and we're seeing a citizenry that does get it and is working hard to be prepared,' he said.

Firefighters work to extinguish the flames of the Glass Fire burning near the town of St. Helena in Napa County

Firefighters work to extinguish the flames of the Glass Fire burning near the town of St. Helena in Napa County

The Glass Fire went from 1,500 acres to more than 15,000 acres overnight as winds spread embers across the valley

The Glass Fire went from 1,500 acres to more than 15,000 acres overnight as winds spread embers across the valley

A member of the Eagle Field Fire Department uses a restored 1942 US Army fire truck to fight the Glass Fire

A member of the Eagle Field Fire Department uses a restored 1942 US Army fire truck to fight the Glass Fire

Remnants of a house and garden are pictured in Deer Park, Napa County

Remnants of a house and garden are pictured in Deer Park, Napa County

A burned out house is seen in Deer Park, Napa County, on Monday

A burned out house is seen in Deer Park, Napa County, on Monday

A vineyard is seen as the Glass Fire burns in the mountains above the town of Calistoga

A vineyard is seen as the Glass Fire burns in the mountains above the town of Calistoga

Numerous studies in recent years have linked bigger wildfires in America to climate change from the burning of coal, oil and gas. Scientists say climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable.

The latest fires erupted as a giant ridge of high pressure settled over the West, producing powerful gusts blowing from the interior toward the coast while slashing humidity levels and raising temperatures.

So far in this year's historic fire season, more than 8,100 California wildfires have now killed 29 people, scorched 5,780 square miles, and destroyed more than 7,000 buildings. 

Most of the losses occurred after a frenzy of dry lightning strikes in mid-August ignited a massive outbreak of fires.

Fire worries were developing across Southern California, although it was unclear how strong the predicted Santa Ana winds would become. Heat and extreme dryness were also expected to create problems.

Conditions were also hot, dry and windy in parts of Arizona, where the Sears Fire in Tonto National Forest north of Phoenix has grown to more than 14 square miles since it erupted Friday. Authorities reported zero containment. 

Burnt out homes and structures are obscured by smoke in the Skyhawk community, where the Shady Fire burned on Monday

Burnt out homes and structures are obscured by smoke in the Skyhawk community, where the Shady Fire burned on Monday

A helicopter drops water over a fire crew while fighting the Martindale Fire on Monday

A helicopter drops water over a fire crew while fighting the Martindale Fire on Monday

Redwood City Firefighters pout out hotspots in burnt out homes and structures in the Skyhawk community near Santa Rosa

Redwood City Firefighters pout out hotspots in burnt out homes and structures in the Skyhawk community near Santa Rosa

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