A Napa pet cemetery is an oasis of green in a charred landscape after wildfires swept the Atlas Peak area


One of the only green patches on the southwestern edge of the Atlas fire burn area is a pet cemetery off Atlas Peak Drive.

The sound of its babbling brook was interrupted intermittently with the sound of a fire truck or utility crew’s diesel engine powering up the mountain to extinguish hot spots or continue the arduous task of reconnecting the mountain’s residents homes to the valley city below.

On Saturday afternoon the park’s only visitor was a reporter, a deer and her two fawns.


The animals found shady refuge under an oak tree as smoke from the Nuns fire plumed from the hills on the other side of Napa Valley.

Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park was an oasis in a sea of destruction from the firestorms, which have killed at least 40 and destroyed more than 5,000 structures.

Farther up the road, 51-year-old Robert Vickham controlled the traffic flow on the two-lane highway with a sign as his colleagues at Traffic Management Inc. methodically cut down eucalyptus trees lining its edges.

“We’re going to be here for weeks,” the Pittsburg, Ca., resident said. “I’m 51 and been in California my whole life and I’ve never seen a fire this bad.”

Teams like Vickham’s dotted the Atlas fire burn area first hit by the flames last weekend. Slowly but surely every tree in the way of a damaged utility line is going to come down, he said, with tall brown power poles down the hill waiting to fill in the gaps.

A local property owner is allowing utility crews to set up camp at his vineyard, quickening their work.

A small Cal Fire crew, meanwhile, was going door to door — or in this case, winery to winery — and surveying the damage. Team members carried GPS locators so others back at incident command could map the fire scar area they walked.

Entire hillsides are charred black, and some wineries are nothing but brick frames with burned and melted equipment left.

The team left a pink and black polka dot ribbon on each property’s mailbox so they wouldn’t visit a location twice.