North Bay Fire Outbreak

By Brandon Cadiz, Caitlyn Dang, Isabel Paner, Lily Batchelor

Posted on October 18, 2017 at 2:33 PM PDT

On October 8, 2017 a series of late night wildfires ignited throughout Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Butte, Mendocino and Santa Rosa counties. Because of the extreme wind conditions, the fires expanded from 1,000 acres late on October 8th to almost 20,000 acres on October 9th. The four major wildfires were grouped as Atlas, Tubbs, Redwood, and Nuns. The four major wildfires combined accounted for about 170,000 acres burned. As of press time, only one fire has been reported 100% contained: Cherokee Fire.

Before the wildfires broke out California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) issued red flag warnings on October 7th on their Facebook page. The warning was in place until Tuesday Oct. 10 expecting winds from 20-30 miles per hour. On the evening of October 8th, winds ranged from 25-42 mph in the North Bay Area. In an article by Rong-Gong Lin II from the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area’s Diablo Winds, reaching 70 mph, were a factor in spreading the fires rapidly across the affected areas, causing 12 initial wildfires.

Wildfires

The following information was taken off of Cal Fire’s website on October 16:

Tubbs Fire: The Tubbs Fire started near Tubbs Lane in Calistoga on the evening of October 8, 2017 at approximately 9:45 pm. The fire has spread 36,390 acres as of October 16, 2017 and is 70% contained. In an article by the Los Angeles Times updating the fire incidents, by October 16 officials reported at least 22 casualties, making it the third deadliest fire in California state history.

Atlas Fire:  The Atlas Fire is burning in Napa County, north of the city of Napa, off of Atlas Peak Rd, south of Lake Berryessa. The fire was ignited on the night of October 8th as well, at about 9:52 pm. As of October 16, it has covered 51,064 acres and is 68% contained. There were 6 casualties reported from this fire as of October 16.

Nuns Fire: The Nuns Fire is located off Hwy 12, north of Glen Ellen. It is centered in between the areas to the east and north of the city of Sonoma. The fire was ignited on October 8th at 10:00 pm. By October 16, the fire has stretched  over 48,627 acres and is 50% contained. There has been no announced casualties from this fire.

Redwood/Porter Fire: The Redwood Fire is located in Mendocino County, North of Hwy 20, west of Mendocino National Forest, south of Black Bart. The Redwood Fire ignited on October 8th at approximately 10:36 pm. Of October 16, the wildfire has spread 35,800 acres and has been 50% contained. The wildfire has been responsible for 8 casualties.

Cherokee Fire: The Cherokee Fire broke out on the evening of Sunday, October 8, near Oroville in Butte County around 9:45 pm as well. The fire was have said to have started off Cherokee Road and Zonalea Lane in Oroville. The Cherokee fire spread 8,417 acres and as of October 16, 2017 at 6:21 am the fire is said to have been 100% contained. There were no casualties reported in this fire.

The Numbers:

92%: As of Sunday October 15, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) reported they they have restored power to 92% of homes and businesses that lost power during the wildfires. They expect to restore power to all customers by late Monday, October 16.

Photo via Cal Fire

Photo via Cal Fire

17 and 1: 17 States and 1 country (Australia) have sent firefighters and other resources to help battle the North Bay Fires.

40: The Number of Shelters opened up for evacuees affected by the wildfires.

5,700: The number of structures burned in the fires.

5-10: The number of years projected before local infrastructure is rebuilt.

41: The number of reported casualties.

213,000: The number of acres burned.

As devastating firestorms rip through California’s wine country, the death toll has risen to 24 people with hundreds more missing. Over thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes, and mandatory evacuations have been issued for Calistoga, Geyserville, the northern end of Santa Rosa, and Sonoma Valley. “If there’s been a mandatory evacuation, you cannot go home,” said Sonoma County spokesman Scott Alonso. “The area is unsafe.”

In Sonoma County, over 25,000 people had to evacuate.

Officials have also issued evacuation advisories for the those living in the eastern ends of Napa City and Santa Rosa. In Solano County, the evacuation area has been expanded to southwest Fairfield as of October 12.

“We are extremely lucky because we have been warned and have time to gather our important items,” said Aileen So, who graduated from Dominican last year. “My heart breaks for those that weren't as lucky.”

According to Phil Wilson reporting for the Los Angeles Times, the 21 fires burning across the regions affected have “destroyed more than 3,500 buildings and torched more than 191,000 acres — a collective area nearly the size of New York City.”

Many Dominican University of California teachers and students have been affected by the deadly Tubbs Fire that has already engulfed more than 500 homes and structures in Sonoma County, according to The Press Democrat. Many students who suffer from asthma and respiratory problems opted to stay home instead of attending class. Some students who currently live on campus have even left to return home, where the air quality is less affected by the fires. Teachers cancelled classes on Monday due to the poor air quality and evacuations taking place just north of Dominican. On Wednesday, one professor delayed starting class activities by stopping to address the “elephant in the room. He and his students spent a few moments sharing about how they were affected by recent North Bay fire breakout. The professor, personally, experienced a mandatory evacuation on Monday morning, which was the ultimate reason from him having to cancel his morning class that day. Multiple students shared about how family members had to evacuate or loved ones that had lost their homes in the wreckage. This fire has shaken all types of people at Dominican.

Dominican University remains open, however emails have been sent to staff asking them to give leeway to students who feel it necessary to stay home, or who have been displaced due to the fire. Although students are still urged to attend classes, the school is trying to the best of its ability to make sure students are comfortable by providing face masks in Bertrand’s Student Health Center, and counseling services. All outdoor sports and activities have also been canceled or rescheduled.

President of Dominican, Mary B. Marcy sent an email to students expressing her concern and providing information on the fire, “While the campus property is not directly threatened, we do have students, faculty, and staff who live in Santa Rosa, Napa, Sonoma, Solano and other affected areas.  We have offered emergency housing for evacuees, and have also given instructions to the campus community to provide support and flexibility to affected individuals, while keeping the campus fully operational.”


Students are urged to contact University Counseling Services, The Student Health Center, or the office of Student Life for Support for anyone affected directly or emotionally by the blaze. Any student who had been displaced and needs housing or other supplies can contact Paul Raccanello, Dean of Students.