The death toll from the fires has hit 41, and officials believe that number will rise as searchers make their way through the neighborhoods in Santa Rosa that burned down as well as mountain communities across wine country.
What you need to know:
- Officials said Monday they are making good progress on the massive Tubbs and Atlas fires, which are both more than 60% contained.
- Crews have also achieved 50% containment on the Nuns fire, but a smaller adjacent blaze near the Oakmont neighborhood of Santa Rosa continues to cause trouble.
- Mandatory evacuation orders for Calistoga residents east of the Tubbs fire and locals living south of Lake Curry east of the Atlas fire have been lifted. Orders remain in place for several communities to the Atlas fire's north, east and south flanks.
- Over the next few days, weather conditions are expected to improve significantly.
- Northern California fires have scorched more than 220,000 acres since they began Oct. 8. As many as 10,000 firefighters from throughout California and surrounding states have battled the fires around the clock.
Despite continuing red flag conditions, forecasts called for cooler daytime temperatures and relatively light winds Thursday. Fire authorities were predicting a generally productive day on the fire lines in and around the devastated resort communities of Sonoma and Napa counties’ wine country.
As of Thursday morning, the Tubbs fire had charred 34,200 acres and was 10% contained, Cal Fire spokesman Richard Cordova said.
“We need to hit this thing hard and get it done,” Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tom Gossner told hundreds of firefighters gathered at dawn in a barn at the Santa Rosa fairgrounds. “It’s time to finish this thing.”
There was more good news: Predicted winds never materialized last night in the vicinity of Calistoga, where mandatory evacuation orders had forced 5,000 residents from their homes Wednesday afternoon.
Throughout the region, major highways and country lanes were packed with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. trucks as the company aggressively worked to restore communications by repairing downed power lines and replacing destroyed telephone poles.