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Glass Fire: Cal Fire director urges California to 'embrace' and 'become resilient' to reality of fires

"We need every piece of the system to be raised to meet the challenge...that California is going to be in the future," Cal Fire Director Thom Porter said.

7 p.m. update: 

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. -- Cal Fire officials said the Glass Fire is burning 58,880 acres and is 5% contained.

1:20 p.m. update: 

California's Office of Emergency Services and Cal Fire provided updates on the Glass Fire in Sonoma and Napa County. 

A number of officials spoke during the conference on the progress of the firefight. The fire acreage remains as it was on Thursday morning, 56,781 acres and 5 percent contained. 143 structures have been destroyed and 46 damaged in both Napa and Sonoma counties. However, over 24,000 structures are still threatened by encroaching flames.  

“What we’re looking at is a point in time,” said Cal Fire Director Chief Thom Porter in response to a question about where California can go after this historic fire season, and what changes need to be made. 

Porter went on to reference a previous historic fire season on the West Coast in the early 1900s, after which fire agencies worked to better understand fire behavior and mitigation. 

"What we’re doing is looking at it holistically," Porter said. "It’s not just more firefighters. It's not just more aircraft. It's not just more fuels reduction project work. It's not just defensible space or home hardening. It is absolutely every one those things. We need every piece of the system to be raised to meet the challenge that the changing climate is giving us and that California is going to be in the future."

Porter argued what some might think to be an unusual point: embracing the fact of fires. 

"Every acre in California can and will burn some day," Porter said "And we need to embrace that and become resilient to it by embracing the 'entire system' approach to fixing this problem."

12:00 p.m. update:

Battalion Chief Mark Brunton provides an in-depth update on the Glass Fire and how fire crews are tackling the growing blaze. 

There has been limited movement into Lake County, however, in the rural area near Mount St. Helena, there is "very active fire."

"Very rough country, very steep terrain, very heavy fuels, and it's really difficult area for us to fight fires in," Brunton said. 

At the same time, Brunton says the fire in Napa County is making a push to the south. In Sonoma County, the southern parts are concerning, particularly for the communities of Kenwood and Glen Ellen. 

"At this point, we're still cautiously optimistic that it's gonna hold," Brunton said. 

In terms of Santa Rosa and Calistoga Road, Brunton says containment lines are "looking very good." These areas were top concerns early on in the firefight. 

Brunton also touched on the Red Flag Warning, which begins Thursday at 1 p.m. This warning will particularly concern those southern-most areas, as winds will come in from the north. 

"The fire conditions are such and the fuel conditions are so dry, it is very receptive, and the spread of fire is almost imminent as we speak regarding these conditions," Brunton said. 

11 a.m. update:

Firefighters are warily watching for “violent” winds expected in California’s wine country Thursday that could fan the flames of a massive wildfire. 

The Glass Fire north of San Francisco has destroyed more than 140 homes and is threatening thousands more in a small town known for hot springs, mud baths and wineries. 

More fire crews and equipment were deployed overnight in and around Calistoga, a town of 5,000 people in the hills of Napa County, after a forecast called for strong winds amid extreme and low humidity. 

At least 2,000 firefighters are battling the blaze in Napa and Sonoma counties. 

Original Story:

Firefighters on the Glass Fire are preparing for a challenging day on Thursday, as National Weather Service Bay Area has announced a Red Flag Warning starting at 1:00 p.m. for areas in and around the fire zone.

"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," NWS Bay Area said in a Twitter post

The fire, which began on Sept. 27, is now 5 percent contained and 56,781 acres. The area where the fire is burning has lots of dried grass and brush, fueling the flames.

Brian Newman, fire behavior analyst for Cal Fire Incident Management Team 3, explained what this Red Flag Warning could mean for the Glass Fire. The fire has pushed toward the north and slightly to the east, which was expected. 

"Our concerns are, coming up here in the next 48 hours, as that wind starts to shift around from the south and west coming around to the northwest and starts to push this fire back in towards the community of England and over toward Pope Valley," Newman said. 

CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 3 describes the conditions they expect firefighters to have to face once tomorrow's Red Flag Warning hits the #GlassFire.

Posted by CAL FIRE Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit on Wednesday, September 30, 2020

143 Napa and Sonoma County residences have been destroyed, with many more properties damaged and a total of 26,290 properties currently under threat. 

Click here for Napa County evacuation information. 

Click here for City of Calistoga evacuation information.

Click here for Sonoma County evacuation information.

Click here for Santa Rosa evacuation information.

Evacuation Centers:

  • Cross Walk Church: 2590 First Street, Napa
  • A Place to Play (Temporary Evacuation Point) 2375 West 3rd Street, Santa Rosa
  • Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds (accepting sheltering in cars and RVs. Not ready for congregant sheltering at this point.) 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Peteluma
  • Petaluma Veteran’s Building (Temporary Evacuation Point and shelter) 1094 Petaluma Blvd. South, Petaluma
  • Sonoma Raceway (Temporary Evacuation Point, car sheltering and camping) 29355 Arnold Dr.

MAPS

An evacuation map and details on evacuations and evacuation shelter for the Glass Fire are available on the Napa County website HERE or on the map below.

A Sonoma County evacuation map is available below. Temporary evacuation points have been set up at the Santa Rosa Vets Hall and Petaluma Vets Hall. The Santa Rosa Fairgrounds.

Roads are closed in the area of the fire

Tap here to see a list of current road closures in Napa County

Tap here to see a list of current road closures in Sonoma County

WILDFIRE PREPS

If you live in a wildfire-prone zone, Cal Fire suggests creating a defensible space around your home. A defensible space is an area around a building in which vegetation and other debris is completely cleared. At least 100 feet is recommended.

The Department of Homeland Security suggests assembling an emergency kit that has important documents, N95 respirator masks, supplies to grab with you if you’re forced to leave at a moment’s notice. The agency also suggests signing up for local warning system notifications and know your community’s evacuation plans to best prepare yourself and your family in cases of wildfires.