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Widespread damage, evacuations in Napa, Sonoma, Yuba counties

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By Monday afternoon, officials were reporting 10 people had been killed by the wine country area wildfires and Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency proclamation for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties due to the effects of multiple fires, including the Tubbs and Atlas fires.

Critical infrastructure has been damaged, thousands of homes damaged, destroyed or threatened and thousands have been evacuated, state officials said.

The first call came in just before 2:30 p.m. Sunday about a vegetation fire just south of the Napa County Airport in northwest American Canyon.

By Monday morning, several blazes were burning in Napa and Sonoma counties, with evacuations under way, schools closed and structures lost. A local emergency was declared for the 2017 Napa Fire Complex at 10:15 p.m. Sunday.

“Fires are burning all over the northern part of the state right now, and we’re sending a State OES (Office of Emergency Services) engine wherever it’s needed,” Benicia Fire Department Division Chief K.C. Smith said Monday.

Two Vallejo Fire Department crews were committed to assist with suppression efforts in Napa, officials there said.

“Fires in Napa and Sonoma have compromised air quality in many cities around the Bay Area, including Vallejo,” Vallejo city officials said. “The City of Vallejo has not issues a shelter-in-place warning at this time, but we encourage citizens to limit outdoor activity, close windows, and turn-off or reduce use of air conditioning. City staff continue to closely monitor the fires in Napa and Sonoma. We will provide updates as necessary.”

Vallejo schools were in session Monday, though principals were directed to keep the students indoors with no recess.

Napa schools will remain closed Tuesday, district officials said.

Lincoln Elementary School office manager Jeanine Cortez said the students appeared well and that she was recovering after needing to cover her mouth walking from her car to the office at 8 a.m.

“I’m doing better now that I’m inside,” Cortez said.

It was “difficult to breathe” Sunday night, Cortez said. “And I don’t usually have problems with asthma, but I had headaches.”

Among those impacted are officials at Sonoma Raceway.

“All of us at Sonoma Raceway extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to those who have been touched by the devastating North Bay fires,” raceway president and general manager Steve Page said Monday morning. “Our facilities team and a number of local fire companies have been battling grassland fires on Cougar Mountain and elsewhere around our property, and at this point it does not appear any of the raceway’s structures or other facilities are at immediate risk. We appreciate all of the good wishes that have flooded in from friends around the state and country.”


Napa County Fire first learned about smoke rising from a vehicle storage yard in the 1600 block of Green Island Road, which was responded to by crews from American Canyon, Napa city, Vallejo and St. Helena fire departments, officials said. Fanned by strong northerly winds, the flames spread to many acres, officials said.

Napa Valley College was closed Monday, though its gymnasium was open to serve fire evacuees, president Ron Kraft said. Napa County also opened its Emergency Operations Center and emergency shelters, as the areas of Atlas Peak Road, including Silverado Country Club, Knights Valley to Tubbs Lane in Calistoga, Monticello Road to Circle Oaks Subdivision, were evacuated.

Former American Canyon City Council woman Joan Bennett said that while she thinks most of that city’s residents are safe from the fires, surfaces all over town are covered in ash. And that’s the least of the problem.

“Our beautiful Napa Valley is going to be an eyesore, and we know the economy can be affected by something like this,” she said. “I’ve been trying to figure out how I can help, but they don’t want you on the roads and they don’t want you outside without a mask, so, I don’t know how to help without getting in the way. Expect to offer my home to for anyone needing shelter, and I’ve done that.”

Vallejo coffee roaster, Fabrice Moschetti, who lives in Napa, said he became aware of the fires at about 10:30 Sunday night.

“My daughter told me to look out the window, and the whole sky was red. Huge flames. All the hills were on fire,” he said. “We had to close all the windows because we couldn’t breathe from the smoke.”

Moschetti said he and his family were up all night, monitoring the situation.

“There’s no power now or phone or cellphone coverage. But we’re OK. The ones really bad are on the east side of the highway. Those guys, they burned down. Lots of houses have burned down, some stuff at the Silverado Country Club burned down. Some people were staying there and they had to be evacuated,” he said. “A lot of smoke. My friend has a vineyard right there – the Beaucanon Winery – and all night long he was calling me about the very dense smoke and embers flying everywhere. He was afraid everything would catch fire. Last time I heard from him was just after 4 a.m. and I haven’t been able to reach him since.”

Since Napa schools are closed, Moschetti said his 8-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter were with him at work Monday.

“Some of my daughter’s friends lost their house. She was really afraid yesterday. It’s really a traumatic experience. All her friends were being evacuated last night. They’re sending pictures of their places and they’re burned down,” he said. “We could see some flames on the hill as we were leaving to come to Vallejo. There were a lot of law enforcement – from as far away as San Mateo. It’s very dramatic. I hope nobody got hurt. I hope everybody got out. You think your in control, but something like this proves otherwise.”

Contact Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824.

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