Crews Attack ‘the Last, Most Difficult Part’ North Bay Fires
Multiple wildfires are burning in the greater North Bay. Cal Fire is referring to them collectively as the LNU Lightning Complex. LNU stands for Cal Fire’s Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit, and you can find the latest evacuation info here. A map of the fire is available here. The biggest fires are:
Hennessey Fire (merged with Gamble, Green, Aetna, Markley, Morgan, Spanish and Round): Napa County, 299,763 acres, 33% contained
Walbridge Fire (merged with Stewarts): Sonoma County, west of Healdsburg, 54,923 acres, 17% contained
Meyers Fire: Sonoma County, north of Jenner, 2,360 acres, 97% contained
The LNU Lightning Complex in California’s Wine Country saw minimal spread overnight, growing from 356,326 acres to 357,046 acres, according to Cal Fire’s Wednesday morning status report.
Before nightfall, containment stood at 27%. This morning it is at 33%.
The LNU Complex started as a group of blazes sparked by lightning strikes more than a week ago. As fires merged, it grew into a monstrous inferno, leveling California’s parched landscape and incinerating homes. The third-largest fire in California history, the LNU Complex is spread across five counties: Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Solano and Yolo.
Crews were focused on increased fire activity outside the town of Middletown in Lake County overnight. Crews are setting backfires and using bulldozers and hand crews to solidify containment lines.
“If you look at that whole northern portion of the fire that’s going into Lake County is where we’ve been putting our efforts to wrap around it,” Cal Fire public information officer Chris Bridger said Tuesday night. “You have Calistoga down below it and Middletown above it. There are a lot of residences in there. That portion of the fire was our priority today, and we’re working to get lines wrapped around that area.”
KTVU reported that aircraft were unable to take off from the Cal Fire heliport in Lake County on Tuesday due to active fires and thick smoke.
“Firefighters performed what is called a backfiring operation,” KTVU reported. “Backfiring operations are fires deliberately set so that the fire burns up the hill instead of down the hill where it has an open field run toward Middletown.”
“This is the last, most difficult part of the fire,” Chris Waters, the Cal Fire operations section chief, said at a Tuesday press briefing. With good weather conditions over the next few days, he’s hopeful crews will make progress by the end of the week.
The number of homes destroyed continues to grow as ground crews conduct investigations in burn areas. The latest count is more than 978 structures destroyed, 256 damaged and 30,500 threatened.
Crews have gained containment of the fire in recent days with cooler temperatures, humid conditions and stable winds suppressing fire activity and allowing firefighters to build containment lines. A huge win came on Monday when the North Bay dodged thunderstorms moving across Northern California; the lightning and erratic winds in the forecast never materialized.
The fire has taken five lives and injured four civilians.
Cal Fire has reduced some evacuation orders to warnings, and many evacuated zones are expected to be repopulated in the coming days, Cal Fire officials said Tuesday. For full evacuation orders and changes, visit here.
FEMA and the California Office of Emergency Services announced survivors of the numerous wildfires across Northern California may now register for financial assistance from the federal government. Funds will go toward home repair and replacement, rent, and other miscellaneous expenses. Visit DisasterAssistance.gov/ for more information.
Find more evacuation details below:
Sonoma County: Find latest evacuation information at SoCo Emergency.
Napa County: Find evacuation information at Napa County Office of Emergency Services.