Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Napa Confidential: The Fire So Far

                                             The Private I                                                                                                        
While the mighty Atlas Fire has been contained, it is by no means out, and there is no way to assess the damage along Atlas Peak, Soda Canyon and through the hills east/north of Yountville.

I did catch one resident of Circle Oaks (evacuated) who commented the community was completely surrounded by fire, but the fire department put up a huge stand and saved their subdivision.  This suggests Walt Ranch's forests were lost/are lost to the fires.  Roads remain closed as crews continue to work the interior of the various fires, and while people were escorted back so they could fetch documents at Circle Oaks, I think they remain displaced for now.

Don't know if the MiniWalt/Kongsgaard's property survived, or what the situation is around Miliken Creek and the Hall's reputedly just-completed water filtration plant, and Walt Ranch.  My best guess is the forests burned.  I'm sure a stand was made to try to save the Miliken plant, but it was involved so early on, before firefighters arrived en mass.

What saved the ridges from Sonoma's east side that spilled into Napa's west side (actually south side directionally) were changes in winds and serious efforts by air: 727s and 737s with sodium borate and lots of helicopters, including the heavy-life Chinooks of Columbia Helicopters that deliver just under 60,000 gallons/hour of water, quieting things down and protecting hotshorts down below.   They systematically worked the many points between Yountville and Zinfandel Lane where the fire came over ridge lines into the county and prevented losses on that side of the valley. We won't know much for some time.

I just watched the St. Helena City Council meeting, and Chief Sorenson had photos of where our volunteers served and prevented the fire from spreading from the Tubbs Fire in Calistoga down to St. Helena and protected us by making a stand at Petrified Forest on Petrified Forest Road, and put out embers that blew from the engulfed area across the road before they could do damage to "our side."

The Chief reported that St. Helena was the first truck on the Atlas Fire.  They had been called to join other units battling a blaze that began earlier in the day at the huge auto dismantler's location with acres of cars.  Hundreds of cars were lost.  They were released from that fire about 9:15, and moved along up the valley when from Hwy. 29 they noticed a red glow and spotted the fire ... they immediately headed to Atlas Peak Road via Silverado Trail and were able to save lots of people who were stuck with fire fast approaching ... 10 cars of people coming down the hill from Atlas Peak sealed off from escape by a burning tree that had fallen across the road.  They got the tree out of the way and the people to safety and were called right to the Tubbs Fire back beyond St. Helena.

Unreal.  Nothing spoiled in views really from Yountville up on the west side until past Calistoga from the main highway.  I'm sure it's a mess from Silverado Trail Napa to Yountville, however.  The Atlas burned to the valley floor and took some wineries and vineyards with it.

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