US-NEWS-CALIF-WILDFIRES-WINECOUNTRY-3-LA

The vineyards at the Somerston Estate Winery & Vineyards, photographed on Sept. 30 in St. Helena.

SACRAMENTO – The devastating Glass fire burning in Napa and Sonoma counties is now halfway contained, with evacuation orders remaining in place for thousands while damage inspection teams continue to assess the wildfire’s extensive destruction, authorities say.

Since igniting outside of Calistoga on Sept. 27 and growing intensely toward Santa Rosa in its first 48 hours due to heavy wind gusts, the fire has now consumed at least 600 homes, Cal Fire’s Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit said in a Tuesday morning incident update. The state fire agency reports the blaze is now 66,840 acres and 50% contained.

Emergency officials in the past few days have reduced some mandatory evacuation orders to voluntary warnings, including all of the cities of Calistoga and St. Helena, the Sonoma County community of Kenwood and some neighborhoods on the east side of Santa Rosa inside city limits.

But numerous other orders have remained in place for more than a week, and some newer orders, particularly in parts of northern Napa County near the Lake County line, have been issued as recently as Sunday afternoon. Cal Fire says more than 21,000 structures are still considered threatened.

Up-to-date evacuation information, including details about the repopulation process for evacuated residents, is posted regularly to the Nixle webpages for the Santa Rosa Police Department, the city of Calistoga, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and the Napa County Office of Emergency Services. Updates are also available via the social media pages for those entities and Cal Fire LNU.

Cal Fire said Tuesday the Glass fire burned with “moderate” behavior overnight, a less severe assessment than that of recent days as conditions have become less windy but remain dry. A chance of much-needed rain – currently a 30% likelihood for the Santa Rosa area, according to the National Weather Service – is finally in the forecast, expected Thursday night or early Friday and predicted to continue through Saturday, though there’s no estimate yet for how much precipitation may fall.

Damage figures remain preliminary at this point and are likely to grow, Cal Fire advises. Even so, at least 310 houses have burned down in Sonoma County and 290 in Napa County, with more than 150 others damaged between the two counties, Cal Fire said.

Napa County has seen a much larger commercial destruction toll, of 321 buildings lost – including a number of the region’s iconic wineries, restaurants and more – than the dozen reportedly destroyed in Sonoma County.

Hundreds more minor and outbuildings have shot the Glass fire’s total past 1,400 structures destroyed, making it at least the 12th-most destructive wildfire in California history, Cal Fire records show. Four of the state’s 12 worst, by that measure, ignited this August or September.

The Glass fire is just a few dozen shy of the 1,490 buildings destroyed by the CZU Lightning Complex, in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties; and the 1,491 lost to the sprawling LNU Lightning Complex, which burned in portions of Sonoma and Napa along with Solano, Yolo and Lake counties. 

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