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Gov. Newsom in crisis mode as California endures wildfires, power outages and winds

Gov. Gavin Newsom sunk into a chair in the lobby of Novato Community Hospital, where he had just met with patients who were evacuated from nearby hospitals because of the Kincade fire. Newsom said he was impressed with the coordination among local, state and federal governments to ensure vulnerable residents in the path of the fire were taken care of.

The Democratic governor even called the Trump administration’s response to California’s wildfires “spectacular.”

“I have nothing but good things to say about the federal government’s support,” Newsom said. “In fact, the Homeland Security acting director proactively called me two days ago to check in. … Hats off to them.”

Newsom said the state is working to ensure enough pharmacies are kept open on generators in communities without electricity so that residents have access to needed medications, an issue that was raised to him by people at evacuation centers over the weekend. “That’s why it’s important for me to be on the ground,” he said.

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On Sunday, Newsom visited three evacuation centers in Petaluma, including one where three dozen patients from a skilled nursing facility specializing in dementia care were taken. “To see them on cots in temporary shelter, it really hits home the human side of this and the enormity of the task of 180,000 people being evacuated,” Newsom said.

By 5 a.m. Sunday, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, which is in a mandatory evacuation area, had moved about 100 patients to other facilities, according to a Sutter Health spokesperson. Eight of those patients were taken to Novato Community Hospital.

Sutter also evacuated eight infants in its neonatal intensive care unit to other area hospitals. Newsom said he has been receiving ongoing updates throughout the fire, including when new ones pop up.

“We’ve got a new fire north of Clearlake that is of concern at the moment,” he said.

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That fire was burning fast in an area highly prone to large fires.

Newsom declared a statewide emergency Sunday as wildfires spread throughout California, burning tens of thousands of acres and forcing evacuations of more than 180,000 people. The 54,000-acre Kincade fire has destroyed 94 structures and threatens an additional 80,000.

More than 2 million were without power.

Newsom said some resources, like fire engines and firefighters, have been sent from the Tick fire in Santa Clarita to the Kincade fire. “It’s remarkable we’ve been able to do that given where the Tick fire was going 48 hours ago,” Newsom said. “The big fear now is Windsor, Healdsburg and holding the line on Highway 101 so that we keep it on the east side.”

Newsom said fire officials expect winds to die down tomorrow, which will allow for more aerial attacks.

“The issue of these winds remains the wild card, but the good news is we believe we have passed peak and by 11 tomorrow we should be in a very different wind condition,” Newsom said.


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