Mother Nature has gone easy on us for once this month, and fears of overnight lightning storms failed to materialize, giving firefighters another night of calm, cool conditions to make progress on the three major fires burning in eight out of nine Bay Area counties.
The largest of the bunch, the LNU Lightning Complex, enters its eighth day at 22-percent containment, with over 350,000 acres burned across Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and Solano counties. The hot-spot priorities for Cal Fire, as KTVU reports, are the Walbridge fire in Sonoma County, west of Healdsburg, which has now burned 67 square miles of woodland area but has so far been kept out of the towns of Guerneville, Rio Nido, Windsor, and Healdsburg; and the northern portion of the Hennessey Fire in Napa, which is burning near Calistoga. Evacuation warnings have been issued for parts of Middletown in Lake County, where the 2015 Valley Fire caused mass destruction.
The Walbridge Fire grew about 3,000 acres overnight, according to Cal Fire, and it has now reached 5-percent containment.
A total of 871 structures have been confirmed destroyed in the LNU Complex, with some homes destroyed in west Healdsburg late last week. Damage assessment teams were scheduled to fan out on Monday to further clarify the extent of the fire's destruction.
The number of deaths attributed to Bay Area fires rose to six or seven, with one additional death in Solano County attributed to the LNU Complex, and the first death to date in Santa Cruz County attributed to the CZU Complex fires.
As KPIX reports, a 70-year-old man was found dead in a remote, mountainous area known as Last Chance. He was found near his vehicle, and may have been attempting a last-minute escape after previously not evacuating.
Five deaths were attributed to the LNU Complex as of early last week, including the death of a PG&E employee who was found in his vehicle near the fires in Vacaville. But the official count of fire deaths appears to still be six, not seven, people.
After gusty winds and possible lightning failed to materialize Sunday night and into Monday morning, the National Weather Service announced it was lifting a Red Flag Warning for the whole Bay Area that originally was supposed to last until 5 p.m. Monday. "Stay weather aware as weak cells are still over the North Bay," the NWS writes on Twitter, "however, most moisture has moved north of our area and instability has decreased giving us confidence to let the warning expire early."
We have CANCELLED the Red Flag Warning.— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) August 24, 2020
Stay weather aware as weak cells are still over the North Bay; however, most moisture has moved north of our area and instability has decreased giving us confidence to let the warning expire early.#CAwx pic.twitter.com/bG8PKPr6Sn
Containment on the CZU Lightning Complex rose to 13 percent overnight, and it has burned 78,000 acres. Approximately 77,000 people have been evacuated as a result of the fires in both San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, as KSBW reports. 163 structures have been confirmed destroyed in the blazes, which have now been burning for eight days.
While the UC Santa Cruz campus remains evacuated, KTVU reports Monday that there is currently no imminent fire threat to the campus.
The SCU Lightning Complex Fires in the East Bay and Santa Clara County have been burning for nine days, and still stand at 10-percent containment. The immediate threat that emerged Sunday was that gusty winds could push the northern flank of the fires into the heavily populated areas of Livermore, Dublin, and Pleasanton, although that has not occurred.
The SCU Complex has burned over 347,000 acres, nearly as much as the LNU Complex, but it has not yet caused as much property damage. So far on 12 structures have been confirmed destroyed by these fires.
And up in Marin County, west of Olema, the Woodward Fire has burned just under 2,500 acres — a figure that has been downgraded after officials have gotten a better assessment of the fire's footprint. As of Sunday night, firefighters there had reached 5-percent containment.