Massive Fire In Napa/Sonoma Counties in California

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 - 9:49am

A 20,000-acre fire is raging just a few miles from me. This is what it looks like out my back window (it's still dark):

Ash is falling like snow.

Santa Rosa, a nearby city of 200,000, is being evacuated.

This is a HUGE fire. Am heading off to pick up my daughter, who is at a friend's house closer to the blaze.

If you live in Napa, Sonoma or Lake counties, please seek safety asap. The news is reporting the roads are already getting jammed with evacuaees.

More as I'm able to post.

 

,

74 Comments

Adam Taggart's picture
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Sunrise

Just got back from picking my daughter up at her friend's. On the way there, it looked like I was driving into Mordor -- huge red/orange glow and dark smoke clouds on the horizon.

Her friend's house was packed with extended family who had been forced to evacuate from their homes in Fountain Grove. On the drive home, my daughter's phone was erupting with Instagram alerts from her network of friends reporting homes, schools and hospitals that have burned. Halfway home, our cellphones lost data service (still out).

Traffic on local roads was becoming congested and long lines were building at the gas stations.

We got back home 10 minutes ago. Still have internet service at home and we're watching the coverage on local TV. The fires in Santa Rosa look like they aren't contained at all (TV just reported 0% containment). One journalist is covering a gun shop that's now ablaze, with hundreds of rounds of ammunition going off.

The damage from this is going to be huge, at least for the local economy. Fortunately not many reports of life loss so far.

Sunrise happened about a half hour ago. I've never seen such a bright, blood-run sun. Now, though, the sun is fully obscured by a dark overhang of smoke/clouds, making the lighting outside really eerie. There's an eclipse-like faux night across the landscape. Very ominous.

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Ammunition not a danger in fire

This video, which I must have seen three or more years ago, really stuck with me because it shows just how undangerous unchambered ammunition is.  

In it, they try every possible way to create a hazard.  They shoot cases of ammunition with high powered rifles.  They run over piles with bulldozers.  They set huge amounts of it on fire.

Watch this from the 12:20 mark for a bonfire with 20,000+ rounds set on top.  

There are pops, but nothing penetrates both layers of a sheet rock wall (in fact, there were almost no penetrations and the second layer of sheetrock was never dented.

So, out of all the worries, Adam, we can scratch off errant ammunition cooking off as one of them.  

Please keep us updated on the fires and how you are managing them too!

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SFGate on the Napa / Sonoma Fire

Some 10 to 15 significant fires were reported burning in the North Bay this morning.  

SF Gate on the Fires:

 

Massive wildfires burned out of control in Napa and Sonoma counties early Monday, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people and shutting down major roadways as firefighters sought to halt the advance of infernos that were driven by powerful winds.

There was no immediate estimate of the damage or the extent of injuries, but vast swaths of land were burning in both counties.

The fire had started Sunday in Calistoga and burned west through canyons and over hills.

One blaze in and around northern Santa Rosa called the Tubbs Fire had burned at least 20,000 acres by 8 a.m. Scores of homes were lost in the Journey’s End Mobile Home Park on Mendocino Avenue, and the nearby Fountaingrove Inn burned, as did the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country and a Kmart store. And that was just the beginning.

Residents in the area described fleeing for their lives in the middle of the night from the fire, in cars or on foot. Hundreds of firefighters were on scene.

 

 

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Early lessons learned

It's a little premature to say with confidence, but I think my neighborhood will be OK. The 101 freeway will act as a powerful firebrake, plus the winds, which have been unusually strong over the past 24 hours, are now blowing away from us (east and north).

Very sad to see the coverage coming in from other neighborhoods that are not so fortunate. Houses in Glen Ellen that are now nothing but cinders. My daughter just found out her friend's grandparents have learned their house in Fountain Grove has burned down.

Having to scramble this morning definitely has brought learnings with it regarding preps. Here are a few:

  • A surprise nighttime emergency like this catches you off-guard. Reaction time and decision-making is initially sluggish and imperfect. I made some regrettable goofs as I rushed out the door to get my daughter because I was rushing too fast and still waking up.
  • Make contact with your affected loved ones fast. As mentioned, my daughter was staying at a friend's house closer to the fire area. Calling to learn she was OK and arranging to pick her up was smart. Doing so got her to greater safety, removed the worry we would have otherwise had about her, and gave me the chance to see firsthand that the fire was indeed a serious threat.
  • Call all local family/friends to get status, offer help, and agree on contingency plans.
  • Use but don't depend on communications. Cell coverage has failed in a number of areas. Our phones are currently usable only spottily. 
  • Having extra gas stored at home for our cars has been a big relief. Gas lines quickly became an immediate issue for drivers and I've heard reports from gas stations that the stress there is not bringing out the best in people.
  • Road congestion has become an issue, especially as road closures continue to happen. I've had to come up with a plan for the backroads I'll take if we have to evacuate (actually, I've come up with several plans in case more roads become compromised)
  • Having a store of cash on hand has been a relief. I've divided it amongst the family just in case of the unlikely event we get separated in an evacuation.
  • Go bag: we (the parents) were pretty well-prepared in advance of what we'd grab if we only had minutes to leave the house. The kids not so much. I've busied them on packing a bag each (just in case).
  • Animals: we'll take the dog with us no problem. The cat got out early this morning and will come back when she comes back. In retrospect, I should have put her in a room or carrying case as soon as I realized the threat this morning. We'll put as many chickens as we can into the car during an evacuation and release the rest. Glad we're in the time of year when we've already sent the pigs and sheep off for slaughter. I'd have to leave them here to fend for themselves, otherwise.
  • Air quality is not good and getting worse. Ash/soot is everywhere and still falling. My girls have brought in bits of burned detritus that have been borne on the winds from miles away (they just brought in a charred page from a cookbook that likely came from a house fire over 5 miles away!). I have some surgical masks we'll put on if conditions worsen or if we have to leave.

More as I think of it...

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Evacuated at 230 am

I'm in rural bennett valley. Word is our neighborhood still safe, but bennett ridge 2 miles east total loss of 60 homes. Our neighbor was pounding on our door, other neighbors honking horns. We could see fire to the east and north. We drove around our closed loop neighborhood of 65 homes and could lights on and people leaving.

We took or computers, hard drives, important documents, medicine, change of clothes, dog and food and left within 15 minutes. Smoke , incredible wind. The fire station quarter mile away empty of personnel. Like zombie apocalypse. We went to bodega bay to join a friend who lives here. Another family sheltering here too...their house in fountain grove most definitely lost.

We also know at least three other families in rural santa rosa who have lost their homes.

We both had full tanks of gas. We saw lines at gas stations.

Mostly fine mentally, but wished I had grabbed a few family memories type of thing.....wedding pics, heirloom quilt.

I was just saying I wanted to pare down and be more minimalistic. Be careful what you wish for.

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greendoc wrote: We went to
greendoc wrote:

We went to bodega bay to join a friend who lives here. Another family sheltering here too...their house in fountain grove most definitely lost.

C -

Glad to hear you're OK. Keeping my fingers crossed about your house. Please keep us informed.

If you need anything while in Bodega, just ask. I can drive any supplies you may need over.

cheers,

A

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My Checklists

Adam,

Disturbing seeing fire out the window like that I'm sure. . .I hope things continue to improve in your immediate area and that you can help those who need it when the smoke clears.

As part of my post-hurricane rethink, I'm working on 30 minute, 8 hour, and 24+ hour evacuation packing / to do lists which will allow us to round up and do the critical things based on the time we have available once we decide (or are ordered) to evacuate.  One of the things I'm including is a to do list for each of the kids so that everyone has something meaningful to do as we run around preparing to leave.

Your story is another reminder that serious or existential threats can come at any time and are no respecter of persons or property.

Rector

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45,000 Acres Now

The size of the fire has now been estimated at 45,000 acres (vs earlier reports of 20,000)

It's surreal here in the town where I live. My town, Sebastopol, is OK (for now), but everyone is swapping stories of evacuees that have arrived from other less fortunate areas.

Downtown is bustling. Some of it is business as usual, but a lot of it is people stocking up on food and gas.

The air is still filled with floating ash. Some folks are wearing surgical masks and other mouth filters. Shockingly, the news is reporting that as bad as the air quality is (125 ppm vs "normal" of <35ppm), it's not as bad as Beijing(!). 

The lighting is also spooky. The particulates in the air are acting as a filter, giving the sky a peach-colored glow. Everything looks like it's in an old 1970s photo.

Lots of folks here are reaching out to offer their spare bedrooms and back yards to families and livestock displaced by the fires. The community here is pulling together admirably (which was one of the reasons why I chose to move here).

The news just reported that at least 1,500 structures have been reported as lost so far. Many more are still under threat. As mentioned, the cost of this blaze is going to be extremely high...

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A Burning Desire

And like "advanced" farming, the fires create their own (and one of many) strong climate change feedback loops. Of course, like a de-iced ocean, a barren, biologically dead piece of earth is its own loop. Someone should tell Elon Musk not to worry about Mars since soon we'll have our own. 

http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/04/15/california-carbon/ 

 

Stay safe Adam

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Fire

Good luck guys, a bad year for disasters.

My friends were in the Oakland fire a few decades ago, were given five minutes to pack by Oakland FD, lived, but lost everything and rebuilt. That was pre prepper mentality so they were really surprised and at a loss as to what to take.

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Question for Rector

Hi Rector, I was away and didn't watch much news and came home late yesterday to learn about the terrible fires in your Northern California.

When you are finished with your lists, would you mind sharing them to the group or with me? We live in the Seattle area, but so face some different issues than you but I like seeing how others are thinking.

I have my Go Bag, but am starting to think it needs refreshing as well as our plan.

Thanks! 

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Thoughts

Hi Adam, so sorry to hear about this. As I read your comments, what are your thoughts on how to get information out to family members if all cellphone towers are out? I believe in an earthquake here in the Pacific NW, this could be a real issue. Do you think a landline would fare better?

Please stay safe - glad to hear the wind is diminishing.

Best, Carrie

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Glad to hear Sebastopol seems

Glad to hear Sebastopol seems like it won't be affected, Adam. My cousin lives in Santa Rosa, and they're just outside the evac zone and have the cars packed and ready to go, but they're waiting and watching. She says the traffic is at a crawl, which makes me wonder if it wouldn't have been better for them to get out of there earlier...

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I'd leave now
darcieg76 wrote:

My cousin lives in Santa Rosa, and they're just outside the evac zone and have the cars packed and ready to go, but they're waiting and watching. 

It's their call, but if I were in Santa Rosa, especially near the evac zone, I'd get out now, before nightfall.

Local TV news is showing lots of footage of neighborhoods where folks went to bed last night with no clue anything was amiss. In the morning, their houses were cinders. They had no time to do anything but run when someone banged on their doors in the middle of the night urging them to flee.

In my opinion, it's just better to be safe than sorry in situations like this where the possible downside (i.e., dying horribly) totally dwarfs the inconvenience of unnecessarily spending the night in a friend's guest bedroom. They can easily head back home in the morning if everything goes fine.

As I said, Sebastopol is OK right now and looks like it will remain so. But still, my wife and I are talking about having at least her and the kids spend the night at her parents tonight.

The fires in/around Santa Rosa are still breaking out. The situation is very much *not* contained. So why gamble?

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45,000 acres...
Adam Taggart wrote:

The size of the fire has now been estimated at 45,000 acres (vs earlier reports of 20,000)

For those, like me, that have trouble visualizing something like 45,000 acres, here's a conversion that might help.

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Yeah, not sure what's

Yeah, not sure what's spurring the indecision. I did pass your message along--thanks. 

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Good Luck Adam

Bushfires are extremely scary - even when you are prepared! (as the ash/cinders can start spot fires well ahead of the main fire depending on which direction the wind is blowing).

After our emergencies, CSIRO did research and the local government put this together -

http://cdn.esa.act.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/ACT-Bush-Fire-Survival-Plan-2013.pdf

I hope it will be useful.

 

 

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Anaheim too...

...I wonder how long the photographer had been waiting to take this exact picture at this location during a canyon fire?

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Bushfire Preparation

You may also want to consider Thermo-Gel as part of your bushfire preparation kit, as it can be applied a few hours before the fire front arrives. It was developed in California. It is a chemical fire-retardant spray gel (based on the absorbent crystals used in disposable nappies if I remember correctly).

This is a link to a live demo of what it does -

You will have to search out where you can buy it (as the link google found for me seems to be dead).

Good Luck

 

 

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I would leave too......

We decided at 4 am that waiting it out in santa rosa not safe due to traffic. We had a relatively easy time getting out of to bodega via 12, but 101 closed northbound and crawling southbound. Still waiting to hear if our neighborhood safe....

It feels like a slight breeze off the ocean has cleared the air here considerably. Meanwhile ash on the outdoor table...35 miles west of bennett valley.

Luckily my husband had some 3M N95 masks in the car. He picked some up after getting caught in a sierra wildfire few years back while fishing. Earlier today you definitely needed a mask to be outdoors. Now we are drinking beers on the patio swapping gallows humor with friends who have lost their homes via text.

Strange days. We expect to be here at least another 24 hours. Incredible seeing the lists of neighborhoods and local businesses that are no longer. I was prepared for an earthquake, but only marginally for a fire. Getting woken from a deep sleep makes your thought process less than stellar. Getting all sorts of offers for housing with friends if we do lose our home.

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Fire breaks

Years ago when I read 'Little House on the Prairie' I was deeply impressed when the father set fire to the fields around the cabin to eliminate fuel for the approaching brush fire. Jack Spirko from 'thesurvivalpodcast.com' recounts how a neighbor who owned a bulldozer for his work created firebreaks to protect the neighbors as a forest fire was headed their way.

Winds cannot be overestimated. In a downtown fire in my hometown a number of buildings blocks away were affected by blowing chunks of burning embers.

I am so glad that the loss of life has been nil. Fire is a strange bedfellow: without it we would have not even learned to cook food or make warm homes in winter, let alone have all its benefits today, but when unleashed in peace or in war it is a monster.

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The loss of life isn't

The loss of life isn't exactly nil. 10 people died, last I saw.

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I hope everyone is OK

I'm lucky.  None of the fires are anywhere near me, with all of them at least 100 miles away.

I just hope everybody else is OK from here on out and these things get put out fast.

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long term drought vs short term rains

I wonder how long it takes for wild fire conditions to develop.  Does a single season’s above average rainfall not influence the wild fire potential of a long-term drought for very long?  That long lasting west coast drought was broken during last year’s record rainfall.  Apparently, the long-term drought was just delayed.

Every Tuesday I check out the University of Nebraska’s drought monitor web site:

http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

As of last Tuesday, it showed a 6 month average drought free northern CA.  During last winter, the web site’s map showed a normal (white) level of precipitation in the entire northwest.  Then in June a dark red (drought) spot starting to form in eastern MT.  That reddish drought region then spread west pretty quickly.  

Back in the 50s my family lived near Napa.  I remember it being very comfortable all the time.  I then traveled up there 10 years ago.  I couldn’t believe how hot it was.  It was almost as bad as where I now live in Tucson AZ (hopefully not for long).  I was surprised not to see dying forests like I do in the 9000’ high mountains near Tucson.  I wonder what the unburned CA ones look like now.

I have friends who had to evacuate their remote homestead site in northwest MT last month.  Last winter’s snow was above average, but the June summer rains did not come in.  In a matter of a few weeks forest fires were burning everywhere in the northwest.  Fire retardant was being dropped all around them when they left.  Luckily, their place did not get destroyed. 

 

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Alternate Communications

Most Cell Phones have the ability to make calls on WiFi if you have it enabled. Verizon and AT&T definitely allow this on iPhones, but you do have to enable it in your preferences. This way if you have WiFi but no Cell service you can still make and take calls.

During this time, Comcast has opened it's normally closed WiFi networks to the public to enable such calls. The Internet by design is a much more robust comunications system than the regular phone networks.

Here is a link to the Apple support page on enabling WiFi Calling:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203032

Here is a link to an interactive WiFi Network Map for Comcast. Normally closed except to customers, it has been opened to all until further October 13th:

http://hotspots.wifi.comcast.com

Non-subscribers to Comcast will need to pick the “xfinitywifi” network name from the list of available hotspots, launch a browser, and locate the “Not an XFINITY Internet Customer” section on the sign-in page to get started.

 

Stay Safe everyone.

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Before and after....

Wow.

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Thank you for the Bush Fire Survival Plan!!

Thank you for sharing the Bush Fire Plan!  I am an Emergency Manager in New England and I like to point out to new residents that we live in a 50sq mi matchbox during droughts.  While we have been prepared with our BOBs for years most folks don't prepare to evac on a moments notice.   Here's a prayer that those fires get under control soon!  I have family and friends in that area of Cali and I haven't been able to reach them this weekend....   :-(

 

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Painting Respirators are really good

As an asthmatic I only use N95 to filter out minor interior dust particles.  We have two painting resperators for use in emergencies such as a forest fire.  The fit is much tighter than the n95 filters that most folks get at the pharmacy or WalMart.

Stay safe!  Leave early!  Call family!  Avoid the rush for essentials by stocking up in advance of need.

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Update on size

By Monday, more than 18 fires had burned a total of 80,000 acres across at least seven northern counties, including Napa and Sonoma, in the wine region.

That's a huge set of fires.

:(

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A Feature of Life in CA in October

Hi Skipr,
While I am sure seasonal rainfall affects yearly conditions on the ground, these low humidity, dry wind conditions are an annual feature of life in California.  From Weather Underground
 

Downslope winds in autumn a classic pattern for California fire

Many of the worst fires in and near the coastal ranges of California occur in early autumn. Of the ten most destructive California fires on record prior to this year, seven occurred in either September or October. The reason: proximity to the cool Pacific Ocean gives the region a Mediterranean climate, meaning that winters tend to be mild and wet and summers hot and dry.

As a Southern California native who recalls ash raining down on my elementary school playground from Malibu fires and now a longtime resident of Sebastopol near Adam, I can tell you that when these winds arrive, there is an eerie quality to them.  It is just so dry this time of year that these sorts of fires feel inevitable.  Thankfully, Sebastopol has been a haven from all of this destruction so far.  Cross fingers!
 

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Lives lost

My apologies. I did not know about any lives lost when I wrote my post. Any life lost is one too many.

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Our house still standing

Thanks to valiant efforts of cal fire and bennett valley fire department. Word is, still hot spots on the hill behind us, but the crews spent most of last night defending the perimeter. They chose to make a stand in our neighborhood because we had 1. Working fire hydrants and 65,000 water tank and two wells that pump 100s of gallons per minute plus on site generator in the pump house in event of power outage. 2. Defensible space...our neighborhood surrounded by large swath of mowed fields. 3. We border a major artery and the neighborhood concentrated to three streets...so easy to exit if things degraded rapidly. And 4. One of the firefighters lives in our neighborhood. Yeah Patrick Tognacci!

No news on when we go back. But I still realize things we could have done better. Will give that some thought.

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New England wildfire vulnerabiliby
GM_Man wrote:

Thank you for sharing the Bush Fire Plan!  I am an Emergency Manager in New England and I like to point out to new residents that we live in a 50sq mi matchbox during droughts.  While we have been prepared with our BOBs for years most folks don't prepare to evac on a moments notice.   Here's a prayer that those fires get under control soon!  I have family and friends in that area of Cali and I haven't been able to reach them this weekend....   :-(

GM_Man, I live in New England as well. Can you share what area you are referring to that can become "a matchbox during droughts"? I was under the impression that we get sufficient rainfall here so as to not make wildfires a liklihood.

Thanks in advance.

 

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Fires

Hi Adam,

I just wanted to send a quick note. I hope you are ok. It sounds like you may get lucky based on your posts. I'm thinking about you and your family and praying for all of you. 

Sincerely,

Dana Samuelson

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The Morning After

Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

I spent yesterday afternoon visiting several evacuation centers and then driving by Santa Rosa on 101.

The water I brought to the centers was appreciated, but not very necessary as they were overflowing with donated resources. The community here has really come out in force to support its own. At my daughter's high school, the largest evac station in the town, I think I counted more volunteers than evacuees.

I then drove over to Santa Rosa because I wanted to see how "close" the fires were, so I could determine how worried to be about staying at my house overnight. The good news (for me) was that the few fires on my side of 101 were not spreading much and it looked like the fire crews were gaining on them. Given that I estimated the nearest action was 7 miles or so from where I live, I decided to stay at home for the night.

But driving on 101 was sobering. First, the air was much thicker with particulates, requiring a filter to breathe even while in the car.

There was very little traffic, and half of the cars on the road were either police or fire. I could see a number of the neighborhoods featured on TV reports (Fountain Grove, Bicentennial Way, Coffey Lane) and the smoldering ruins in each.

Most disconcerting were the guardrails along the highway. They were on fire  -- they're metal, but are supported by flammable creosote-soaked poles -- and looked like this:

Driving on the deserted, smoky highway with flickering flames on both sides looked exactly like a Mad Max movie set...

I noticed that the buildings burning often were not adjacent to each other. It seems it was much more common for the fire to spread not by proximity, but by a burning building sending up hot embers into the air which then traveled a few blocks before landing on the roof of another building, which they then set aflame.

Once I got north of the city I could see a few burned-out vineyards. And of course, this was only what I could see from the highway. I'm guessing the total destruction from this fire will be in the $billions.

But it does seem the worst is over, at least for my region of Sonoma County. When night fell, I couldn't see any flames on the horizon, which was in sharp contrast to the pre-dawn view of the morning before.

Reports are still coming in of friends who lost their homes, and the death toll is still climbing (11 as of present), though mercifully much lower than I think it could have been. The air is still extremely hazy, but at least the ash has stopped falling.

Today will be spent assessing the full damage and continuing to help the afflicted find some normalcy as they start to tackle addressing their losses.

This has been a hurtful blow to Sonoma County, and will sting for a long while. But it wasn't a mortal one. We'll recover.  

Again, many thanks to all those who have been offering their support. It helps!

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How prevalent is looting?

Zerohedge has an article talking about looting of vacated homes:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-10/looters-ransack-homes-sonoma-co...

Sometimes zerohedge overplays things for dramatic effect.  Any comments on how real this is?  I know it was also an issue during the hurricane in Florida.

It's unfortunate that some people see opportunity in misfortune.  

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Looters

A number of years ago when a tornado hit Little Rock, Arkansas a friend who lived a few blocks from the storm damage said looters were present within two to three minutes from the storm's passing through. That being said, criminals like all hunting animals look for easy prey. Fighting through smoke and ash is not easy. That alone should discourage such behavior.

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CA fires then and now

hi suziegruber,

My family lived in San Diego until around 1955 when we moved up to the Vallejo/Napa area (I'm a Navy brat).  Then in 1960 we moved down to the Anaheim area.  These types of fires simply did not exist in any of these areas back then.  I finally moved out of CA in 1974 and have lived in Tucson and Boston since then.  Tucson is now in a 20 year long drought that looks like it will never end.  I'm wondering if that is the outlook for the entire western US since I was looking to relocate to the northwest or northeast soon.  The southwest is simply doomed.

hi gm_man,

I found a long range climate forecast for New England that indicated an increased rainfall in the future.  I'm still trying to find a similar one for the northwest.

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jhhenry2000
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Above average rainfall makes it worse...

Above average rainfall during a rainy season actually makes the fire potential and fires themselves worse during the following late summer/early fall.  This is because the above average rainfall leads to above average growth of grasses and small shrubs during late winter to early summer.  When this stuff all finally dries out, and it almost always does, the result is an above average amount of fuel for the fires to burn.  As suziegruber pointed out (below), the current set up is a normal, every year phenomenon around here.  How much dried out plants are available to burn is a major variable (although certainly not the only variable) as to how bad a given year will be.

The good news is a cold front is forecast to come through 12-18 hours of so from now.  This will decrease the temperature, and more importantly reverse to wind directly to on shore.  A 180 degree change in wind direction will then blow the fire toward what it has already burnt (no remaining fuel), and with this plus the lower temperature we can hope the firefighters can then put these out within a matter of hours.  At least hopefully things will play out this way and this will pretty much be over by tomorrow evening.

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proudmama
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Glad you are safe, Adam

Hi Adam,

I live on the East Coast but grew up in California.  I'm all too familiar with those fires!  I'm glad you and your family are safe.  I have been checking this section of Peak Prosperity frequently to see how you are doing and for information about the fires.  It is much better information than what I hear on the radio.  All the best, and I'm glad you guys escaped the worst of this.

 

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Adam Taggart
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Fresh(er) Air

Within the past two hours, an onshore breeze from the coast (about 15 mi away) has been noticeable. The air is materially cooler and fresher. A nice development.

While Sebastopol is now clearly out of danger, alerts of more evacuations in Santa Rosa are still coming in hourly. Thankfully, though, the remaining fires seem to be moving more east and north, where the population is much less dense.

Area schools have now closed for the week. Many local businesses are shut, too, as a good percentage of their employees live in Santa Rosa and are busy dealing with the impact of the fires.

To the question about looting: I haven't heard any local reports of such yet. But that doesn't mean it's not going on. I've left a voicemail for my buddy who's a Santa Rosa police officer asking for his first-hand observations. As I'm certain he's super busy at present, it may be a while before I hear back -- but I'll share his response when I receive it.

Death toll is now at 15, with over a hundred folks still "missing" (most of these folks are expected to be found alive). And over 2,000 structures burned.

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Sharsta
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Post Traumatic Stress

Thank goodness the danger has reduced.

Once the immediate physical danger has gone, one thing to look out for (in the coming days, weeks and months in yourself, your family, your friends and neighbours) is Post Traumatic Stress.

It will exhibit in different weird and wonderful ways in different degrees with people of all ages.

For us, the schools developed programs to help the children work through the experience and cope, while the adults talked it out. For months, the conversations all ended up at 'Where were you?' 'What did you experience?'  'How are you coping?' while people told their stories and listened to others.

The first anniversary is the toughest, after that it starts to get a bit easier. It is also tougher if your house is intact in an area where many houses were lost, as each night you are going back to big areas of destruction (no lights or people, even when the power is finally back on at your place) and it takes a while before the houses start to be rebuilt.

Good Luck.

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suziegruber
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What You Can Do When Your Friend Experiences a Traumatic Event

Hi everyone,
This event is far from over here in Sonoma County.  I was just at Walmart where they are still out of bottled water and the shelves in the food sections are much more empty than usual.  The fire is currently threatening a large neighborhood that houses the elderly, some of our most vulnerable community members.  Please send prayers.

Here's a way to help if you know anyone directly affected.  A friend of mine posted this on Facebook.

Hugs,

Suzie

What You Can Do When Your Friend Experiences a Traumatic Event



You can help your loved one overcome trauma by first paying attention to signs of stress and taking the following 10 steps:

1. Safe Shelter – After trauma, the most basic of human needs must be met. It’s critical to restore your loved one to a place where he or she will be safe and have shelter. This is especially critical following a natural disaster, terrorism, or mass violence where safe shelter may be difficult to secure. But it’s equally important for your loved one who is the victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence.

2. Nutrition – Make sure your loved one eats healthy foods, regular meals, and drinks plenty of water. Hydration is very important during times of stress. It’s also a good idea to avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol during this time.

3. Rest – Although it may be resisted by the individual, encourage him or her to rest. Without adequate sleep, the body can’t rejuvenate or overcome the effects of the trauma and stress. Have your loved one lie in a quiet and darkened room. Even if he or she is unable to sleep through the night at first, just resting without interruption will help to restore calm. Eventually, sleep should come, and along with it, the body’s restorative powers can begin.

4. Physical Exercise – Sometimes the last thing a person who has experienced trauma wants to do is engage in physical exercise, but this is really a very good way to help them get rid of the negative effects of stress. You can help by encouraging them to participate in a sport or activity you know they enjoy, or join in a game with the family. You may even disguise it as exercise by making it a family effort. Start by stretching, or meditating, doing deep breathing exercises, or yoga. It isn’t how much exercise the person does, but the fact that they do it. Exercise will also help your loved one get back into the rhythm of normal daily life.

5. Relaxation – After someone experiences trauma and is dealing with stress, they need to re-learn how to relax. If you know your loved one enjoys reading, encourage him or her with some books you bring home. If music is a favorite pastime, take him or her out to a concert, buy a favorite artist’s CD, or go to a music festival. Cooking and going out to eat are other relaxing activities that may also help your loved one relax. Whatever it is that you know your loved one generally finds enjoyment doing, make it a point to encourage this kind of activity. Better yet, join in with your loved one.

6. Pacing – Undoubtedly, after a traumatic event, your loved one is involved in some highly stressful activities. Remind him or her that it’s necessary to pace themselves, and to allow sufficient time after stressful tasks for doing something fun (or at least something that takes their minds off the stress).

7. Listen and Talk – It may be helpful for your loved one to talk about what occurred, and, with your encouragement, bring up ways he or she was able to deal with traumatic events in the past. We are all a product of our cumulative experiences and ways we dealt with things in the past may prove helpful now. You can mention your own past dealings with stress and trauma and what worked for you. But don’t be judgmental and force your ideas on your loved one. Listen to what he or she has to say, including allowing their pent-up emotions to release.

8. Give Assurance – When your loved one expresses or shows signs of being depressed, guilty, or angry, he or she needs your assurance that this is perfectly normal, given what transpired. Just hearing your reassurance will help, even if it’s quickly dismissed. Be consistent in offering assurance, as it may take some time to sink in.

9. Connect with Others – Your loved one can most likely benefit by connecting with other survivors of trauma and traumatic events. You can help by finding such a group and going with your loved one to the meeting. At least, get him or her to the meeting, even if you don’t go in. Why is connecting with other survivors of a traumatic event important? For one thing, your loved one will be able to see and hear that others have and are experiencing the same types of difficulties and that will give them some measure of comfort that they are not alone.

10. Prayer and Meditation – The spiritual needs of your loved one are also important. Take the lead by initiating family prayers or going to your church or place of worship, listening to mass or religious service on the radio or watching it on TV. You can also meditate together.

-- Elements Behavioral Health

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cmartenson
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What an insane fire

I have to say, after watching a few videos, that driving through a fire looks like it has to be one of the most nerve-wracking, hellish experiences one can have.

Here's a quick GIF shot from a police car driving through the norcal fire:

https://gfycat.com/tangiblefarawayhypsilophodon

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greendoc
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house still standing

Well it seems our neighborhood continues to stand. 

I have many thanks and praises for CalFire and all the mutual aid coming from all over the state. 

Alot of people are frustrated, at least locally, as we are seeing next to no air support. My guess is the fires are so widespread and affecting so many places the limited resources are being focused on Napa and Sonoma, where I understand their is a real threat the fire will march into the actual downtown areas.  

 

Meanwhile, we were sitting at the crooked goat last night in sebastopol having a beer under blue sky, not needing masks, discussing how much better off we were than Puerto Rico.  We have nothing to complain about, even if we do loose our house.  

I could not find a thrift store open yesterday to buy some more clothes...many businesses closed. But able to stop at Analy high school and get a pair of jeans and some more shirts. I always have flipflops and tennisshoes in the car and a gym bag with towel and swimsuit...not that I will be going swimming anytime soon!  So people are getting use of the Analy evac center Adam. Kudos to them. 

 

But it is incredible how far these fires have spread.  It really is unbelieveable. 

 

Twitter is useless.  The names of the fires have been changed by Cal fire eg..our local fire #nunnsfire is spelled nunfire, nunnsfire, bvfire, bennettvalleyfire, santarosafire, etc. 

The official name is Southern LNU complex.

 

People are using these hashtags to post repetetive pics of the burning hilton with the blurb they went to their high school reunion there two years ago, etc. etc.  not helpful and just spams up the useful information. 

Official websites are slow to update information and can be very incomplete and misleading. I witnessed a Latino woman yesterday get hysterical because she received a poorly worded twitter alert, that to her, sounded like the high school in Rohnert Park was on fire.  It was just closed due to the fire and lack of teachers and poor air quality...but she misunderstood likely as english is her second language.  

 

The most useful sites have been Nextdoor.com and dedicated facebook pages. Social media can be very helpful if people only post useful, reliable, concise timely information with addresses and time stamps.  Should  not be used to spread rumors (i heard form a friend of a friend of a friend this place burned down, etc) Vagueness does not help. Be concrete and only repeat eyewitness or information you have firsthand you trust. 

 

Local radio station KSRO news talk radio has been excellent.  Great reporting and taking calls from boots on the ground giving eyewitness reports of conditons in areas behind roadblocks. The local nixle (http://www.nixle.com/) smart phone app to receive notifications from the police, sherrif has been very timely.  If you were registered for this service and had your phone turned on in the middle of the night you would have been alerted to evacuate. We were not registered for this service a few days ago.  but unlikely it would have helped because I do not leave phone on at night.   Thankfully a neighbor got a phone call from a friend in kenwood who called to say the fire had jumped the ridge and heading our way FAST.  He started waking the neighbors.

 

Take home message if you are ever in a sitch like this: (besides the obvious ones)

1. learn social media skills like facebook/nextdoor and be a registered user and know how to navigate these sites and be a useful contributor if you can. do not chime in to tell us you went to a wedding 5 years ago at a winery that burned down last night. Not helpful. 

2. Know your neighbors. We all have each others backs. Mostly because we know each other and have connections and (mostly) like each other!

3. Have social capital in the wider community . We have many multiple offers for places to stay...because we have taken to the time over the years to create community ties in the school, boy scout, work and social arenas.  The shelters are wonderful and great for those who need them, but staying with friends way more comfortable and less stressful.

4. Keep a checklist taped to a inside door (or wherever it wont get moved) for what you need to take. the 15 minute one, the 30, 60 minutes, etc. Even though I thought to take my laptop charger, I forgot that in the panic to leave. Probably the thing I miss the most. But able to order one online and will come to my friends house by friday.  Folks in PR cannot do that. I am so grateful.  I will add my list: roladex of saved passwords, I am having to reset alot of my passwords now I am working on another computer (since I dont have my laptop charger!)  But probably a good policy to be changing passwords frequently so maybe I dont need saved ones .

5. Don't bury all your emergency cash! I keep money buried in the backyard for an earthquake. But in the rush to leave no time to go out wiht a shovel and dig it up. Luckily I keep about $250 in small bills on hand at all times in the house.  not enough I would be upset if it home burned while I was not home, and easy to grab on way out the door in an emergency like this. I have not needed to spend it as have credit cards etc. But nice to know we have it. 

 

Probably other things to relate...like whether to have an attic fan or not ...does it increase your risk of home buring form inside out as you suck embers into your attic space, etc. I noticed aerial views of burning homes showed an unburned yard and perimeter, but a house engulfed in flames....what is that all about....liekly falling burning debris but have heard opinions form roofing contractors attic fans should be turned off in wildfires or not in your attic in the first place. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ezlxq1949
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Driving through hell

Chris wrote,

I have to say, after watching a few videos, that driving through a fire looks like it has to be one of the most nerve-wracking, hellish experiences one can have.

Yes it is, very dangerous and not to be done if at all possible. Reminds me of the Canberra and Victoria bushfires. All that car needed was a fallen branch to block the road, and then it could be faced with an impossible u-turn. Not much smoke in that video but often there is and it can be impenetrable, causing confusion so that one blunders off the side of the road into who knows what. Or collides with a panicking refugee, or worse, with another emergency vehicle.

Or the car gets a flat tyre or two. Bad deal. Motor vehicles offer a little shelter from fire but not much and not for long. Don't forget that you're carrying a nice tank of petrol or diesel with you, and on the average car it's not designed for bushfire resistance.

It's a bit late now for advice but if you're in a fire zone, always wear clothing made of cotton or wool. Artificial fibres simply melt in the heat. Use footwear made as much as possible of leather, although it's hard to get leather soles anymore, so we're stuck with plastic stuff which seems to do OK.

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capesurvivor
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Posts: 962
Looting

CNN correspondent said looters arrived quickly on the scene. Not sure how we as preppers could prepare for that. I assume we take most valuables/essential stuff with us but still...

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Tina S
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Solano County

My family members near the Eastridge Development in Fairfield are almost for sure evacuating tonight to my brother and sister-in-law's house north of Berkeley.  The Fairfield relatives are almost for sure totally unprepared.  I really hope my 3 family households in the Bay Area are pushed now to take this more seriously. They are more "worry more, prep less" people, at least from what I can tell. And hey I've been there.

October is a funky month in the Bay Area with all the fire and earthquake history - they never want me to visit now because "everyone is jumpy".  This last month has sure made me think hard on the PP emotional resiliency aspect.  Prep is certainly part of it, but sure not all.  Of course it's not helping that I'm reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler right now.:(

I've had some funny looks recently due to my moving ALL of my prep/camping/water supplies outside into the backyard (in sealed heavy duty containers).  In western WA, and after all the hurricane activity, I realized that if we did have the big Cascadia earthquake, all the supplies in the garage might not be accessible.  Like Chris and Adam say about financial moves, better to feel a bit of a fool beforehand rather than a real dope afterwards!  Thanks everyone on here for sharing ideas!

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cmartenson
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Latest Updates 10/12/17 (Thursday Morning, 8:15 AM EST)

Latest developments in the North Bay fires (all times in PST):

5:15 a.m. Dry, gusty winds expected to spread wildfires: Gusty winds are expected to fan wildfires in Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties Thursday morning as the North Bay and East Bay hills and Santa Cruz Mountains remain under dangerous Red Flag warnings until at least through the evening.

The mountains of Monterey and San Benito counties are also under a Red Flag warning until 5 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. A combination of low humidity and fast winds prompted the warning, which denotes that weather conditions are ripe for fires flaring up quickly and spreading rapidly.

At least 22 fires are burning throughout the state, most in Northern California, including those in Mendocino and Yuba county.

The death toll remained at 23 Thursday morning, but officials expect the number to rise as excavation of burned areas gets under way.

The strongest winds are at high elevations in the North Bay hills and East Bay hills, with Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County reaching gusts of just under 50 mph and Atlas Peak in the North Bay hitting 22 mph Thursday morning, said Anna Schneider, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “It’s still not good. You don’t want 20 mph winds when you have open flames. It’s still not ideal,” Schneider said. “Little to no winds would be best.”

Wind advisories for the North Bay hills and East Bay hills remains in effect until 5 p.m. It is put in place when winds range from from 25 mph to 35 mph with gusts of up to 50 mph, forecasters said.

12:35 a.m. New mandatory evacuation for Sonoma: Residents of this area are being evacuated immediately: 7th Street East, from Old Winery Road to the dead end and on Castle Road from Old Winery Road to the dead end.

12:29 a.m. New evacuation warnings in Napa County: Cal Fire is asking residents in parts of Napa County to prepare to evacuate, although no mandatory order has been issued. The advisory includes areas East of Silverado Trail, between Trancas Street and Soscol Avenue, East of Soscol Avenue between Siverado Trail and West Imola Avenue, East of HWY 221 between West Imola Avenue and HWY 29, East of HWY 29 between HWY 221 and Jameson Canyon Road, North of Jameson Canyon Road between HWY 12 and the Napa-Solano county line. Click here to see the advisory.

12:25 a.m. New evacuation warnings in Sonoma County: Cal Fire is asking residents in Palomino Lakes and parts of Windsor and Healdsburg to prepare for evacuation in case an order is issued. Click here for more details.

12:15 a.m. New evacuation warnings in Solano County: Cal Fire is asking residents in this area of Solano County to pack a bag and prepare to evacuate in case an order is issued: North of Jameson Canyon Road from the Solano-Napa county line to Interstate 80, north from Interstate 80 between Jameson Canyon Road and Suisun Valley Road, and west of Suisun Valley Road between Interstate 80 and the Solano-Napa county line.

(Source - SF Chronicle)

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suziegruber
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Posts: 185
KSRO Live Stream

For those interested in following events as they happen our local radio station is doing an unbelievable job interviewing all of the officials involved in this disaster.  You can live stream them. 

Thankfully, the winds predicted for last night did not materialize.  The county assessor was just live on KSRO saying that they plan to reduce assessed values of damaged properties prior to the December 1st tax bill.

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