Wednesday morning brought news that the Glass Fire had not significantly expanded its footprint compared to the day before, and all but around 14,000 residents have been allowed to return home in Sonoma County. But new evacuations occurred Tuesday night around Calistoga, and forecasters are predicting increasing winds out of the northwest starting Thursday afternoon.
The fire in Napa and Sonoma counties that began early Sunday and soon grew to over 10,000 acres now stands at 48,440 acres — up from 42,500 acres on Tuesday afternoon, but with only about 1,840 acres gained overnight. The fire is now 2-percent contained.
As the Press Democrat reports, fire crews made progress in stopping the fire's spread into Tione-Annadel State Park and areas along Highway 12. And Sonoma County Fire Chief Mark Heine tells the paper that Wednesday's focus will be in an area about three miles west of Safari West, the private wildlife preserve that was also threatened in the Tubbs Fire three years ago.
The fire has been kept out of downtown Calistoga, thus far, but it has been burning dangerously close. A new evacuation warning was issued Wednesday morning for most of the city of St. Helena.
Cal Fire said in a statement that the fire "burned actively throughout the night due to low humidity and above average temperatures," and these conditions are expected to continue with the addition of more wind in the coming days.
The National Weather Service has just issued a Red Flag Warning beginning Thursday at 1 p.m. and extending until Friday at 6 p.m., warning of winds coming from the northwest at 10 to 20 miles per hour, with gusts up to 30 miles per hour at higher elevations. This will make the firefight a whole lot harder as containment lines are only just now being established.
Red Flag Warning for the North Bay Mountains and areas at and around the #GlassFire starting at 1PM Thursday. While not expecting the same critical fire conditions as what was observed earlier this week, critically dry and breezy conditions are expected in the area.#Cafire pic.twitter.com/RbjK4VhPLx— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) September 30, 2020
Heine tells the Press Democrat, "We’re seeing fire lines getting very challenging for us with even 5 to 10 mph. winds. We are quite concerned for the winds [on Thursday]. It can really challenge our ability to hold some of these containment lines, especially in the mountains where it’s rugged terrain."
The official Cal Fire count of structures destroyed stands at 43, however the Mercury News reports that at least 80 homes have been destroyed already in Napa and Sonoma. As Eater reports, the buildings destroyed include parts of at least 17 wineries.
There are now 2,099 firefighting personnel working the fire as of Wednesday, up by 600 since Tuesday, per Cal Fire, and they are divided into 25 different crews.
In comments to Bay Area News Group on Tuesday, Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner said, "We’re going to be in this for a couple of weeks, and it’s going to be painful for those that are dealing with it."
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images