Quail fire outside Vacaville exceeds 1,800 acres

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Crews gained the upper hand Sunday on the first large wildfire in Northern California in months — the Quail Fire burning in Solano County and near Winters in Yolo County — ahead of a new forecast in which strong winds could once again fuel its momentum.

The wildfire, which doubled in size in less than two hours Saturday, had charred 1,837 acres by Sunday afternoon, up from 1,400 acres in the morning, Cal Fire reported. It was 40 percent contained, an increase from 10 percent containment eight hours before.

Evacuation orders, which affected 100 ranches and rural homes, were lifted by the Solano County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 4 p.m. Sunday; entry into the fire zone, however, remains limited to residents. Three structures have been destroyed by flames, officials said.

The Quail Fire started just after 4:30 p.m. Saturday about 40 miles east of Santa Rosa near Quail Canyon and Pleasants Valley roads, located about 5 miles southwest of Winters and 15 miles north of Vacaville. It quickly jumped to 150 acres as winds gusted along the Vaca Mountains to 35 mph. Firefighters used aerial retardant to protect homes in the area before winds pushed flames along Putah Creek Road.

By 7:45 p.m. Saturday, 600 acres were ablaze, and just before 9 p.m., it had swelled to 1,200 acres, though firefighters had achieved 5 percent containment.

Evacuations were ordered Saturday on Quail Canyon Road between Pleasants Valley Road and Highway 128. Evacuees were told to head to the Three Oaks Community Center in Vacaville. Although the community center is one of the first fire evacuation centers to be utilized since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Red Cross officials said that COVID-19 testing sites were in place.

Although 20 mph winds persisted overnight into Sunday, about 600 firefighters managed to slow the spread of the fire, Cal Fire said in its morning update. Equipment and personnel had been sent from Woodland, Davis, Butte County and San Francisco to help.

The National Weather Service, however, issued a red flag warning for the southern Sacramento Valley from 11 p.m. Sunday through 8 p.m. Monday. Forecasters warned of heavy winds that would create “moderate to locally poor overnight recoveries,” and keep Monday’s daytime humidity levels low — between 10 and 13 percent. During the night, firefighters rely on calmer conditions and cooler temperatures to rapidly advance on fires.

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