Wildfire erupts in California’s wine country; hospital evacuated

The Glass fire in Napa County, California, erupted early Sunday, threatening thousands of homes. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI

Sept. 28 (UPI) — A newly ignited fire in California’s wine country has grown in less than a day to thousands of acres, forcing evacuations throughout the region, including for a nearby hospital.

Glass fire, which erupted just before 4 a.m. Sunday, grew to 2,500 acres by nightfall, burning vegetation throughout Napa Valley, home to hundreds of wine vineyards, with zero containment, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in its incident update.

Officials said 865 firefighters were battling the blaze as numerous fire tankers from throughout the state flew fire suppression missions, the department said, adding that crews overnight would be working on perimeter control, structure defense and evacuations.

Cal Fire said there have been no fatalities or injuries, but the fire threatens 2,268 structures, prompting Napa County to initiate evacuations and issue warnings throughout the area as the fire burns near St. Helena.

Napa County spokeswoman Janet Upton said 1,857 people are under mandatory evacuation orders with more than 2,000 additional households of some 5,280 people under evacuation warnings.

The fire has prompted St. Helena Hospital to suspend services and evacuate all 55 patients, who were transferred to other hospitals, it said in a statement.

“The safety and well-being of our patients and associates are our highest priority” Steven Herber, president of the hospital, said.

The Contra County Fire Protection District and the San Ramon Valley Fire Department said via Twitter that they assisted with the hospital evacuations.

The National Weather Service said a Red Flag Warning issued for much of northern California due to critical fire weather caused by low humidity and winds of up to 50 mph has been extended to Monday night.

On top of the Red Flag Warning, a fire weather watch is in effect Monday across Los Angeles, Ventura, San Diego Mountains, Santa Clarita Valley and San Diego Valley due to gusty Santa Ana winds and low humidity, Cal Fire said.

Utility Pacific Gas & Electric said it was shutting off power to high-risk areas to prevent further wildfires, impacting some 65,000 customers primarily in the northern and central Sierra region, it said in a statement Sunday.

Some 11,000 customers had their power shut off early Sunday, with the second wave of shutoffs to have begun in the afternoon. Napa County was one of 16 counties that were expected to be impacted, it said.

In Shasta County, north of Glass fire, Zogg fire consumed 7,000 acres after igniting Sunday.

Officials said the fire ignited before 3 p.m. Sunday but exploded to 1,000 acres within three hours, forcing residents west of Redding to evacuate, an order that was later issued for other regions, including Stirling City and Magalia.

Glass and Zogg fires are only two of nearly 8,000 that have burned in the state this season, scorching more than 3.6 million acres.

Cal Fire said in a statement Sunday that since Aug. 15, there have been 26 deaths and more than 7,000 structures destroyed by fires.


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