George Clark has seen some bad fires in his 69 years living in Napa County, but nothing compared, he said, to the flames that burned at least 25,000 acres off of Atlas Peak Road, south of Lake Berryessa.
"By far and away 100 times worse than the worst time," Clark told ABC10 when we stopped him in his pick up truck along Wooden Valley Road. "The fire has never done anywhere near the destruction. The wind and the fire were uncontrollable."
Clark has lived his entire life in Wooden Valley, a verdant swath of land northeast of Napa, and despite the risk the flames rolling down Vaca Mountain posed Tuesday, he said he wouldn't dare evacuate and leave his home behind.
"I don't think you could get a fire going in these vineyards with a torch," said Clark.
As we headed north along Wooden Valley Road, toward Highway 121, Clark's prediction that the fire wouldn't seize the vineyards seemed to be holding true. The hillsides were completely scorched, but many of the grapes remained untouched.
"That's still steaming, but we're good," said Kelly Macdonald, a chef who lives with his wife in a home bordering 121. "When we came (back), this was a blaze still, well, flaring up, and I was just nervous about it."
Macdonald, who's lived in Wooden Valley five years, said when sheriffs' deputies came to his door and told him he'd have to leave, he was devastated. He and his wife had worked their entire lives for a chance to live in a home like the one they restored in Napa, but his family's safety, he said, comes first, and in the end the home was spared.
"It doesn't make any sense," he said. "One house gets it. One doesn't. The people that fought these fires, the sheriffs that keep people out that are dishonest from homes that are empty, to highway patrol and to Cal Fire, I just...thank you."
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