SAN FRANCISCO – Thousands of fire-sapped California residents fled two new blazes Monday that exploded in size overnight, torching more than 25,000 acres.
The breakneck Zogg Fire had burned through 15,000 acres near Redding in Northern California, and the Glass Fire tore through 11,000 acres in the Napa and Sonoma wine country north of San Francisco, according to Cal Fire. Both fires were at 0% containment as of 9:30 a.m. PDT.
The fires, driven by gusty winds, burned several structures overnight, including homes in the city of Santa Rosa, as well as the Chateau Boswell winery and the nearby Black Rock Inn in the Napa County town of St. Helena. The area contains more than five dozen wineries.
“That fire last night was moving at about 40 mph because of the wind, down the hill into the city of Santa Rosa, and we’re hoping for better conditions here today,” state Sen. Mike McGuire told KTVU-TV.
““We just don’t have words,” said McGuire, a Democrat who represents Healdsburg. “It’s an incredibly trying and emotional time right now.”
Evacuations were ordered for Napa and Sonoma counties, where two smaller offshoots of the Glass Fire, the Shady and Boysen fires, merged to expand the blaze. More than 8,500 homes and other buildings were threatened.
Paul Lowenthal, a Cal Fire spokesman, said more than 13,000 homes were threatened in Santa Rosa, and he estimated tens of thousands of people are under evacuation warnings or orders.
The wine country has been scarred by terrible fires in recent years, including the Tubbs Fire that killed 22 people and destroyed more than 5,600 structures in 2017.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for most of Northern California through Monday. A heat wave in the West is combining with dry winds whipping the area, heightening the risk of wildfires this week.
In Sonoma, about 4,500 residents of the Oakmont Village senior living community fled the fast-moving fires – many in nightclothes and robes and gripping canes and walkers –as ash spewed in the sky, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“It was scary, and I didn’t expect it to be so close,” Doris Tietze, 91, an Oakmont resident, told the Chronicle.
The fire season in California has taken a huge toll. Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 8,100 wildfires that have burned more than 3.7 million acres throughout the state, according to Cal Fire. Since Aug, 15 – when California’s fire activity elevated – 26 people have died, and more than 7,000 structures have been destroyed.
Crews are battling 25 major wildfires amid gusty winds and low humidity, Cal Fire said.
The National Weather service said the winds driving the Zogg Fire will continue to be strong into the morning and afternoon before dying down in the evening. Winds combined with the low humidity are giving momentum to the fire.
“With low humidity, any fuel is just more prone to burn, especially with those dried-out fuels we have right now,” National Weather Service meteorologist Emily Heller said.
Forty miles to the south, the enormous August Complex Fire continues to burn. The largest wildfire in state history, about 130 miles north of San Francisco, has charred more than 878,000 acres and was a major contributor to the dangerous air quality state residents were exposed to for days about three weeks ago and the apocalyptic skies over the Bay Area on Sept. 9.
Neither the August Complex nor the Creek Fire, which has incinerated more than 304,000 acres of a forest 60 miles northeast of Fresno, is 50% contained. They continue to spew smoke and foul up the air in their surroundings and, depending on the wind, even hundreds of miles away.
People with respiratory ailments are especially susceptible to that harmful air, said John Watson, a research professor of air quality science at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada.
Power was shut off for 65,000 Northern California electric customers in 16 counties to prevent the spread of wildfires, PG&E officials said Sunday. The shutoff was enacted as a result of a red flag warning because of high winds, they said.
Contributing: David Benda, Redding Record Searchlight; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California wildfires: Glass Fire, Zogg Fire; wine country evacuations