Updated on Sept. 1, 10:30 a.m.
What You Need to Know
Following an intense heatwave and mid-August thunderstorms with dry lightning strikes causing fire outbreaks across the state, multiple fires continue to burn in the North Bay, including the Walbridge Fire west of Healdsburg and north of Guerneville and the Hennessey Fire east of St. Helena.
Although the fires are no longer prompting urgent evacuations, and fire containment grows (73% for Walbridge Fire, 68% for Hennessey Fire as of Tuesday, Sept. 1), they continue to harm air quality and pose a threat to human health.
Cal Fire is referring to these recent fires burning in the North Bay as the LNU Lightning Complex. Together, the fires had burned 375,000 acres as of Sunday, Aug. 30. According to Cal Fire, nearly 1,600 lighting strikes caused 60 fires on Sunday, Aug. 16 and Monday, Aug. 17.
Thousands of residents in a rugged, mountainous swath of northwestern Sonoma County were ordered to evacuate their homes Tuesday, Aug. 18, followed by more evacuations in the town of Guerneville, with a population of about 5,000. On Wednesday, Aug. 19, Cal Fire officials issued new warnings advising a wider area of residents in northwestern Sonoma County to be prepared to evacuate, and all 12,000 residents of Healdsburg were later placed under evacuation warning. On Friday, Aug. 21, evacuation orders were issued for the Forestville area due to the Walbridge Fire. Most evacuation orders have now been lifted or downgraded to evacuation warnings and many evacuees have been able to return home.
Fire crews, bracing for a long fight against the Walbridge fire in west Sonoma County, received help on Thursday, Aug. 20 from a couple of massive air tankers rigged to drop retardant along the edges of the uncontrolled wildfire. They include a converted 747 Global Supertanker, the largest aerial firefighting air tanker in the world, with a capacity for 19,600 gallons of heavy retardant, and a DC-10 tanker that can carry 12,000 gallons.
As of Tuesday, Sept. 1, Cal Fire has tallied 141 homes and 119 smaller buildings destroyed in Sonoma County. In total, the LNU Lightning Complex fires had killed 5 people and injured 4, and destroyed 1,288 structures as of Tuesday, Sept. 1.
— From The Press Democrat Staff
Listed below are links to useful resources, found on our sister site pressdemocrat.com.
Live Updates and Maps
Find live updates, including information about fire expansion, containment, and mandatory evacuation orders, by clicking here.
See an interactive map showing names and locations of fires across the North Bay here.
See a real-time map of wind guests in the North Bay here.
See a map of air-quality in Sonoma County and the Bay Area here.
Evacuation Zones and Evacuation Centers
See an interactive map showing evacuation zones in Sonoma County here.
See an interactive map showing evacuation zones in Northwest Sonoma County here.
There are several locations where evacuees can seek safety. Find them here.
In August, California’s electricity grid operator, The California Independent System Operator — California ISO, called on utilities, including PG&E, to cut power to hundreds of thousands of customers in a series of so-called “rotating outages” or “rolling blackouts.”
The reason for the blackouts: With temperatures well into the triple digits, there would not be sufficient energy to meet demand across the state, according to the California Independent System Operator.
If you’re concerned about losing power during rolling outages, PG&E has a tool that allows you to see the estimated time that your household will be without electricity. Find more information here. (Outage block number 50 is exempt from blackouts, according to ABC7News).
Coronavirus and Mental Health Resources
The North Bay is now battling wildfires amid a pandemic. For information about the novel coronavirus, such as the most recent regulations, and resources, such as how to access healthcare and testing and where to locate meals, housing and financial support, visit socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus.
If you are feeling anxious, stressed or depressed due to these unprecedented circumstances, here are a few helpful articles and resources:
211 Sonoma County: A free, confidential, 24/7 information and referral service and online database. Dial 2-1-1 or text your zip code to 898-211 for more help. 211sonoma.org/mental-health
Sonoma County Crisis Stabilization Unit: 707-576-8181
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 (for those who are more comfortable texting than talking)
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Psychology Today Therapist Finder: Look up therapists in your area and filter by your insurance and/or type of issue you are dealing with. Most therapists are offering phone or online sessions during this time. psychologytoday.com/us/therapists
Sonoma County Online Meetups for Alcoholics Anonymous: sonomacountyaa.org/online-meetings
National Domestic Violence hotline: Staying home may not be the safest option for those experiencing domestic violence. Call 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522 for support. thehotline.org/2020/03/13/staying-safe-during-covid-19.
Headspace and Insight Timer: Meditation apps with guided meditations for all levels, including meditations focused on dealing with feelings related to coronavirus.