Fears of an overnight explosion in new fire lines amid intense wind conditions proved unfounded late Tuesday and early Wednesday, and while we aren't out of the woods yet, the Kincade Fire may finally be coming under control.
It's fantastic news for Sonoma County, much of which has either been evacuated or living without electricity since Saturday and bracing for another night of fire chaos. As Cal Fire's incident report informs us, the Kincade Fire grew slightly overnight to 76,825 acres (up from 75,415 acres Tuesday morning), and the number of structures destroyed is up to 206. Containment rose to 30 percent, up from 15 percent a day earlier, as crews battled the flames during what was forecast to be an extremely windy night.
"Fears that gusting winds would turn the fire back toward Santa Rosa and perhaps mimic the 2017 Tubbs fire and burst into Larkfield before spreading into Santa Rosa faded as dawn approached and the wind disappeared," writes the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. Meteorologist Drew Peterson tells the paper "the worst is over."
A meteor streaks across the night sky as gusty winds create an ember cast on a valley oak tree burned in the #Kincadefire early Wednesday morning in Knights Valley east of Healdsburg. @NorthBayNews @NWSBayArea pic.twitter.com/1y2hSsplWv— Kent Porter (@kentphotos) October 30, 2019
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We are grateful for our Brea firefighters 👨🚒🚒 who are working hard to protect the lives and property of those impacted by the #KincadeFire. The last photo was sent to us by a resident of Healdsburg whose home was saved with the help of our firefighters. Sending prayers and well wishes their way. Stay safe out there!
As KPIX reports, the number of homes destroyed rose to 94, up from 57 early Tuesday, though it's unclear where around the fire perimeter that destruction took place.
Wind gusts that had been expected to be up to 70 miles per hour in higher elevations turned out to be of lesser intensity, the Chronicle explains, with winds down in the flatlands around Healdsburg and Windsor being closer to 10 miles per hour. "It’s absolutely a relief for the communities who have already been through this twice now,” said firefighter Justin Keisling, speaking to the Chron around 3 a.m.
A Boeing 747 tanker dropped fire retardant as it flew over the #KincadeFire, which has consumed over 76,000 acres and has destroyed at least 189 structures, including 86 single-family homes. https://t.co/O22269c5Df pic.twitter.com/M0SFX8w3fb— ABC News (@ABC) October 30, 2019
The danger of spot fires breaking out remains high, as Cal Fire Analyst Jonathan Pangburn told crews Wednesday morning, per KPIX. "Dead fuel moistures are at near record levels… So [the possibility of] spotting [spot fires] remains really high."
One such hot spot emerged Wednesday morning southwest of Cloverdale, as KRON 4 reports. The area of fire was considerably west of the main fire perimeter, possibly west of 101, and Cal Fire was reportedly aware of it.
Around 270 firefighters in 100 vehicles arrived from Oregon Tuesday to help fight the blaze, as KPIX reports. The army of firefighters working this fire is now around 5,000.
More than 270 Oregon firefighters are in California helping respond to the #BurrisFire in Mendocino County and #KincadeFire in Sonoma County. We're proud of them, and grateful they are able to offer this help to Californians in need right now.https://t.co/ayYF8DBBnL— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) October 28, 2019
Cal Fire says they expect to reach full containment on the fire by November 7, though it's possible it will be smoldering for weeks or months after that. Power remains off for about 510,000 PG&E customers, though the utility said it would be turning it back on for most customers on Wednesday. Planned shutoffs in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties were canceled overnight as wind conditions proved less severe than expected.