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October 19, 2017
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Fire containment efforts underway

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
October 13, 2017

It has been “all hands-on deck” in all areas in the North Bay stricken by wildfire, with resources streaming in from all over California to help with the containment and clean-up efforts. 

As of Tuesday, the Tubbs Fire (now called Central LNU Sonoma Complex as various fires are merging together) off Highway 128 and Bennett Lane in Calistoga is 0 percent contained and has burned 27,000 acres. Over 500 residences and 21 commercial buildings have been destroyed and the evacuation areas remain the same. Over 16,000 structures are threatened. Seven helicopters, 13 bulldozers, 84 fire engines and 647 fire personnel have been deployed and are working around the clock to work on gaining containment for this fire. Residents are urged to stay off the roads unless necessary, to allow access for public safety.

“We are still at 0 percent containment but have mass mutual aid coming in from all over the state,” says Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean. “Each day we’re making progress and we are hoping for a turnaround today and into tomorrow.” 

The Nuns, Patrick, and Atlas Fire have been combined as the Southern LNU complex and is managed by Cal Fire. As of Tuesday, winds were coming out of the Southwest but weather forecasts are predicting winds to shift and come from the North over the next several days and so firefighters are strengthening control lines to prepare for the shift. The Southern LNU Complex on the Sonoma County side, Highway 12, north of Glen Ellen, has burned 5,000 acres as of Tuesday, and 5,000 structures are threatened. 458 fire personnel have been deployed to the scene.

“Our focus now [after the priority in the first 24 hours after the start of the fire of getting people out safely] is on attacking the fires, getting lines built and starting the mop up of spot fires,” says McLean. “Yet we’re not getting complacent with evacuations. Fire can rear its ugly head quickly.”

While the weather has cooled down, dry weather is expected into next week and continually shifting winds can cause erratic fire behavior. Cal Fire is also strongly attacking the fires by air, deploying two DC-10s, one 747, several helicopters and nine other air tankers. Each DC-10 can carry 11,600 gallons of fire retardant and the 747 can carry over 18,000 gallons.

“We need the air craft to drop retardants which is backed up with ground crews, the hand crews and dozers,” says McLean. “They all support each other.”

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

“Right now our investigators are investigating the fire, as well as others around the state of California,” says McLean. “It’s a very meticulous process that does take time. We want to make sure that we get the facts.”

For those interested in helping the community, the Red Cross needs volunteers to assist fire evacuees at Elsie Allan High School and Cook Middle School to assist with check-in and supply distribution. Both schools are opening as emergency shelter locations. Volunteers can check in at http://tinyurl.com/RedCrossVolOctober2017. 

Individuals living near the fires can mark themselves safe or search registrants through the red cross website, SafeandWell.communityos.org, as well as facebook.com/crisisresponse/the-tubbs-fire-oct09-2017. To report a missing person, call the Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Department at 707-565-3856.

“If you want to know how to prepare for wildfires, visit readyforwildfire.org,” says McLean. “There are tons of information on this website on how to be prepared.”