Sheriff: Nearly all fire evacuees can now go home
Here’s the latest information to know about the Kincade fire:
With few exceptions, the remaining 147,600 Sonoma County fire evacuees can now go home, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office.
Windsor, Healdsburg, Geyserville and Santa Rosa residents make up the bulk of the residents who until now weren’t supposed to be home. Some of those residents still are under an evacuation warning, but no longer are they ordered to stay away.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Juan Valencia said that this includes all residents outside of the burn area but that a small amount of people still have homes within the burn zone who can’t yet go home until firefighters have extinguished the fire and made sure areas are safe.
“Everything outside the burn area is either fully lifted or is a warning and everything in the burn area is mandatory” evacuation, Valencia said.
How many people remained evacuated wasn’t clear early Wednesday afternoon.
The week‑long Kincade fire is the largest in Sonoma County history, at nearly 77,000 acres.
The next three largest in this county’s lengthy history of fires are all from the 2017 fall firestorm.
The Nuns fire — 56,556 acres — also burned into Napa County and in the end was a combination of several fires that started in east Sonoma County about the same time, including some Napa County land.
The Tubbs fire was 36,807 acres and included a small amount of acreage in Napa County. The Pocket fire, centered in the hills above Geyserville, reach 17,357 acres and burned only in Sonoma County.
Fire officials Wednesday said the Kincade fire still poses a threat to rural areas in the county but that “a corner had been turned” and ongoing progress should occur daily.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Marshall Turbeville said it could take 1-2 weeks to get full containment on the 120‑square‑mile fire. But the 30-percent contained stretches along the most populated edges of the fire, from Mayacama Club Drive in the Larkfield area in northern Santa Rosa up to the Geyserville Grange. That was leading officials to consider allowing residents back into their communities and cities along the Highway 101 corridor. The remaining two-thirds is very rural and mostly sparsely populated.
The most active area is burning along the Sonoma-Lake county line near the base of Mount St. Helena. An estimated several hundred acres have burned into Lake County.
Fire officials Wednesday said residents still would see smoke rising inside the fire zone and from the Lake County area. Cal Fire Battalion Chief Marshall Turbeville said it would be very helpful if callers reporting smoke in the next several days would try to distinguish whether the smoke is from the Kincade fire, or a new fire.
Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said he hopes to be able to allow a “significant number” of fire evacuees to return home Wednesday.
Though not specific about which geographic areas would be involved, he and other public safety officials said that improved firefighting conditions and doubled containment of the week‑old Kincade fire overnight Tuesday and Wednesday morning should allow some additional repopulation of the fire evacuation zone, which at its peak affected about 185,000 people.