Firefighters on Monday continued to battle a destructive wildfire in Northern California's wine country, trying to beat back flames that forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.
Easing winds offered a chance of improved conditions for firefighters trying to control the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, but forecasters warned that another round of strong wind gusts could hit the area on Tuesday.
The wind-whipped wildfire, which has been burning since Wednesday, has grown to 74,324 acres, destroyed 123 structures, including 57 homes, and threatens roughly 90,000 others, Cal Fire said Monday evening. The blaze is 15% contained.
Widespread evacuation orders across northern Sonoma County remained in place Monday. To view a live map showing the evacuation zones, click here or use the interactive map below (click on the "X" in the Legend section to make the map appear).
6 p.m. Monday update: An evacuation warning has been expanded in Lake County to include all residents in the Middletown area south of Butts Canyon Road and Highway 175 to the Napa-Sonoma County lines. This includes all roads off Highway 175 between Middletown and McKinley Drive as well as all of Butts Canyon Road, including side streets, officials said.
2:39 p.m. Monday update: Sonoma County Sheriff's Office is downgrading its evacuation order to an evacuation warning for Zone 7, which is west county and includes the following communities: Jennder Bodega Bay, Bodega, Occidental, Monte Rio, Rio Nido, Duncans Mills, Cazadero, Guerneville, Forestville, Graton. Zone 8 portion south of Occidental Road also downgraded to evacuation warning and includes: Sebastopol, Twin Hills and western unincorporated Santa Rosa.
U.S. & World
In Los Angeles, a fire erupted before dawn Monday on the west side of Sepulveda Pass, where Interstate 405 passes through the Santa Monica Mountains, and roared up slopes into wealthy neighborhoods, threatening thousands of homes. Several homes were seen burning and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tweeted that he and his family had to evacuate his home.
Mount Saint Mary's University evacuated 450 students from its Chalon campus near Getty Center arts and cultural complex. The Getty was built with special fire protection features and Los Angeles fire department Capt. Erik Scott said it was not threatened.
The prospect of more heavy winds in Northern California raised the possibility that some of the millions of people who are on track to get their electricity back after it was turned off in an effort to prevent utility equipment from sparking fires may not have power restored before another possible round of shutoffs.
The Pacific Gas & Electric Co. utility notified more than 1.2 million people that they may have their electricity shut off for what could be the third time in a week and the fourth time this month. PG&E and other utilities in the state have been shutting off power in certain areas to prevent fires during strong winds.
[NATL-BAY]Images From the Destructive Kincade Fire in Sonoma County
Fire conditions statewide have made California a "tinderbox," said Jonathan Cox, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Of the state's 58 counties, 43 were under warnings for high fire danger Sunday, with flames driven by gusts that reached more than 102 mph.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over the weekend.
The biggest evacuation was in Sonoma County, where some people who were packing up and fleeing Sunday had done so two years ago, when devastating wildfires swept through Sonoma, Napa and neighboring counties, killing 44 people.
At an evacuation center at Napa Valley College, Francisco Alvarado, 15, said he, two younger brothers and his parents decided to leave their Calistoga home in advance of evacuation orders. Two years ago, the family had to flee, but in the middle of the night.
"I'm pretty mad that we have to keep evacuating," he said. "I just want to be home. I'm trying to leave here tomorrow; I want to sleep in my bed."
Hundreds of people arrived at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa by Sunday. Some came from nursing homes. More than 300 people slept in an auditorium filled with cots and wheeled beds. Scores of others stayed in a separate building with their pets.
Among them was Maribel Cruz, 19, who packed up her dog, four cats and fish as soon as she was told to flee her trailer in the town of Windsor, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of San Francisco. She also grabbed a neighbor's cat.
"I'm just nervous since I grew up in Windsor," she said. "I'm hoping the wind cooperates."
A historic attraction outside Healdsburg was lost Sunday when embers carried by wind sparked a blaze that engulfed the Soda Rock Winery. The buildings included a general store and post office founded in 1869.
In central California, a tree toppled in strong wind Sunday killed a woman and injured a man, officials said.
In the Bay Area, gusts knocked over a 30-foot tree at a farmers market in Martinez, injuring nine people, including a toddler.