Kincade Fire in Sonoma County now at 16,000 acres, 5 percent contained

ByAmy Hollyfield, Wayne Freedman, Laura Anthony, Lisa Amin Gulezian, and Lauren Martinez KGO logo
Friday, October 25, 2019
Wildfire rages out-of-control in Sonoma County
Crews are battling a fast-moving wildfire burning near Geyserville in Sonoma County. The fire is being called the Kincade Fire.Crews are battling a wildfire burning out-of-control near Geyserville in Sonoma County. Evacuations have been ordered and it is 5 percent contained.

GEYSERVILLE, Calif. -- More than 1,300 firefighters are battling the massive Kincade Fire in Sonoma County that exploded in size overnight. Firefighters say the blaze has grown 16,000 acres.

So far the fire is five percent contained and 49 structures have been destroyed.

RELATED: PG&E report and images provide possible clues to start of Sonoma County wildfire

About 2,000 people have been ordered to evacuate, including all of Geyserville. An evacuation warning has also been issued for northern Healdsburg. Evacuations are ordered for east of Geyserville in the areas of Geysers Road to Highway 128, Alexander Mountain Road, Cloverdale Geysers Road, Pine Flat Road, and Red Winery Road.

The fire exploded from 300 to 400 acres around 11:30 p.m. last night, to 5,000 acres around 1 a.m. and then 10,000 acres early this morning.

A CAL FIRE incident commander says the fire started near the Geysers Geothermal Plant, but they don't know if the plant had anything to do with it. Firefighters also said they do not know if the PG&E power shutoff was in effect in the area at the time the blaze started.

RELATED: Smoke from Kincade Fire could pose health hazards across San Francisco Bay Area

According to a report filled by PG&E, they became aware of a "Transmission level" outages on their Geysers line. On site CAL FIRE personnel brought to PG&E's crew's attention what appeared to be a broken jumper on the same tower.

"Throughout the night, the fire proved to be wind-driven and pushed down toward the community of Geyserville," said Parkes.

Some evacuating ran into issues, like Debbie and Tony Matis of Geyserville. When they tried to pull out their pick-up Thursday morning, they discovered that someone had blocked the exit.

VIDEO: Rugged terrain hampers battle against Kincade fire in Sonoma County

The fire grew to more than 10,000 acres overnight driven by wind gusts up to 60 mph. Several structures have burned, but at this point CAL FIRE is uncertain how many of those might be homes.

They are a couple of school bus drivers who went to went to bed in a normal world, Wednesday night, and work up to this one, tinted in brown and under orders to evacuate. They expected the power to be shut down, but not a double-whammy.

"We really didn't have much warning," said Debi. "I cried a lot. It is scary. You feel like you are going to lose everything."

Evacuations centers took in residents displaced by the Kincade Fire.

An evacuation center has been set up at Healdsburg Community Center and Sonoma County Veterans Building in Santa Rosa. The Healdsburg Community Center is at capacity, officials say. The evacuation center that was set up at Windsor High School is no longer open. Residents with large animals are being advised to head to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds at 1350 Bennett Valley Rd. in Santa Rosa, according to the Red Cross.

VIDEO: Timelapse shows overnight spread of Sonoma County wildfire

Law enforcement is out in force patrolling the now empty streets.

Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said, "We have 50 deputies on duty right now. Overnight we will have 26 deputies protecting the neighborhoods that have been evacuated and directing folks on how to evacuate."

There have been no incidents of looting and there are no reports of anyone missing because of this fire. Meantime, fire fighters are bracing themselves for an intense weekend ahead.

Cal Fire Chief Mike Parkes said, "We absolutely are up against the clock. Not only with the continued dry fuel moistures but the winds predicted are worse than what we had the other night."

Firefighters said winds have slowed, but the terrain is making it difficult to battle the blaze. A Red Flag Warning remains in effect until 4 p.m.

Due to shifting winds, Cloverdale Unified School District and Healdsburg Unified School District have announced that they will close all schools today as a cautionary measure due to the fire threat.

FULL LIST: School closures due to Kincade Fire and PG&E shutoffs

Officials said they may have to close Hwy 101 if necessary, but there is no indication that will need to happen at this time.

"This is an emotional time for many people," said Essick.

The Kincade Fire comes a little more than two years after the catastrophic North Bay Fires in October 2017.

Get the latest developments on the Kincade Fire here.