The Kincade Fire in Northern California caused a mandatory evacuation order that expanded from 50,000 to 90,000 residents this weekend. The state’s largest utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), planned to shut off power for an estimated 2.35 million residents due to concerns that high winds and low humidity would spread the blaze.
The whole towns of Healdsburg and Windsor in Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, were under mandatory evacuation as the evacuation zone stretched from Healdsburg west through the Russian River Valley to Bodega Bay. This news came according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.
Winds reached the heights of up to 75 mph or more during a “historic wind event,” this is almost certain to help spread the fire, which has already burned more than 26,000 acres, the National Weather Service said.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office expects the evacuation to be the largest in more than 25 years with Sheriff Mark Essick saying it’s the largest he’s experienced in his 26-year career.
The sheriff said that there are already 24 deaths from a fire in the area two years ago while urging residents in the evacuation zones to leave.
“I’m seeing people reporting that they’re going to stay and fight this fire,” Essick said. “You cannot fight this. Please evacuate.”
The Red Cross of Northern California Coastal tweeted this message: “Breaking: Mandatory evacuation zones for #KincadeFire were dramatically expanded from Healdsburg to Sonoma Coast include Guerneville, Jenner, Bodega Bay, Occidental, Forestville and more. Sebastopol and north end of Sonoma Valley under evacuation advisory.”
Breaking: Mandatory evacuation zones for #KincadeFire were dramatically expanded from Healdsburg to Sonoma Coast include Guerneville, Jenner, Bodega Bay, Occidental, Forestville and more. Sebastopol and north end of Sonoma Valley under evacuation advisory. pic.twitter.com/03F3ECqtPJ— Red Cross Northern California Coastal (@RedCrossNorCal) October 27, 2019
A PG&E meteorologist said it’s “likely that many trees will fall, branches will break,” which could damage utility infrastructure and start a fire.
PG&E started shutting off power in six phases, beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday and scheduled to end at 10 a.m. Sunday.