A fast-moving wildfire began Wednesday night near Geyserville and The Geysers, threatening vineyards, prompting evacuations, and already causing damage to or destroying at least a dozen homes.
The fire, called the Kincade Fire because it began near John Kincade Road in northern Sonoma County at 9:25 p.m. Wednesday, grew to 10,000 acres or about 15 square miles by Thursday morning. As the Chronicle reports, the fire is 0% contained, and is now burning in the direction of Alexander Valley vineyards. Around 2,000 residents have been evacuated.
The fire was fueled in part by high overnight winds — the same winds that prompted PG&E's preemptive shutoffs in Sonoma County that began around noon on Wednesday and impacted around 28,000 power customers there. As the National Weather Service reports, the peak gust in Healdsburg at midnight last night was 76 miles per hour.
Follow the Healdsburg Hills North weather station to monitor conditions near the #Kincadefire.— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) October 24, 2019
Peak gust 76mph at midnight, currently sustained 39mph with gusts 54mph from the NNE, RH 14%. https://t.co/onb1hENGU4 pic.twitter.com/8sb8xvIrtX
As KPIX reports, 300 firefighters were on the scene overnight, though they were not able to save some homes along Red Winery Road. At least one winery also appears to have burned. The Associated Press also had some dramatic images of the fire overnight, including some of a home on fire.
Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean tells SFGate, "The focus last night was on getting property owners out of there, rather than fighting the fire. We heard reports of property owners who didn’t want to leave." He adds, regarding the terrain, "It’s a lot of grass and oak woodlands and then you go into trees. There’s a lot of rolling ground and then there’s steep topography that’s difficult to access."
16 area schools were closed Thursday due to the fire, which reportedly crossed Route 128 around 6 a.m. As KTVU reports, the fire is burning just north of River Rock Casino and wineries including Truett Hurst and the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. The casino and the roads around it are all under mandatory evacuation orders.
The fire exploded from a few hundred acres around 11:30 p.m. last night to 5,000 acres by 1 a.m., whipped up by the winds, as ABC 7 reports.
Amy Head, a Cal Fire battalion chief, tells the Chronicle, "It’s outpacing us. We’re just trying to keep up with it and bump ahead of it. It’s growing very rapidly in a short amount of time."
"This is the new normal that we live in," said Healdsburg Mayor David Hagele, speaking to the Chronicle. "It’s disheartening and it’s scary for a lot of people because it does bring back a lot of scary memories from a couple of years ago. We’re trying to do what we can to help our neighbors to the north."