Mario Maldonado didn’t wear a mask. The 22-year-old field laborer thought it would slow him down. Besides, he doesn’t like to cover his face when he tends to the vineyards on most nights.
But this Napa Valley harvest was different than most. A muddied pinkish glow emanated from the horizon. A haze hovered in the air and through the vines. A motor hummed from a generator that powered brilliant lights mounted on tractors idling behind the pickers. It illuminated the harvesters’ path and accentuated the fine ash and the dust swirling along with some moths.
Firefighters made another night of steady progress against the wildfires burning in California’s wine country, gaining containment on four fires as temperatures dropped and winds died down.
More than 4,000 firefighters from across California worked to contain the fires. As of Monday morning, the 36,390-acre Tubbs fire was 70% contained; the 51,064-acre Atlas fire was 68% contained; and the 11,889-acre Pocket fire was 40% contained.
In the last week, the fires have scorched more than 200,000 acres, destroyed or damaged more than 5,500 homes, displaced 100,000 people and killed at least 41.
The Redwood Valley and Sulphur fires burning in Mendocino County have destroyed at least 425 homes, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department. At least four commercial structures have been destroyed.
As of Sunday morning, the combined fires have burned more than 37,207 acres. The fires are 37% contained.
Some neighborhoods in Redwood Valley, Willits and Potter Valley are being repopulated at noon, according to the department. A list of the areas is available on the department's Facebook page.
Officials confirmed Saturday that 38 people in four counties had died as a result of the fires in Northern California in the last week.
Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano announced his county's latest figures at a news conference Saturday afternoon, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection confirmed the other three counties' death tolls.
Officials in Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa counties have released the names of more than 15 of the victims, including Charles and Sara Rippey of Napa. The elderly couple -- he was 100, she was 98 -- died when fire overwhelmed their home in Napa.
Patty Ginochio saw the long line of headlights arriving in the early-morning gloom.
When day broke, four hours later, the beaches of the coastal town of Bodega Bay, straddling Highway 1, teemed with refugees fleeing the wildfires that had destroyed thousands of homes and killed dozens of people.
Many of the arrivals were immigrants, who huddled together and spoke their worries in Spanish.