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High winds cause massive power outages

THE PALM in front of Westamerica Bank on West Napa snapped Friday morning. Bill Hoban/Index-Tribune

THE PALM in front of Westamerica Bank on West Napa snapped Friday morning. Bill Hoban/Index-Tribune

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As the winds picked up last Thursday, Valley residents started losing power.

There were dozens of power outages to go along with the numerous downed power lines and trees and tree limbs, and there was a report of a tree going into a house on Riverside Drive.

High winds blasting up and down West Napa Street blew in a large plate glass window in the front of Meritage restaurant around 7:15 p.m. Thursday night, dropping sheets of heavy glass onto the heads of two patrons having drinks.

The man and woman, later identified as Victor and Martina, who didn’t want their last names used, were not seriously injured and were tended to quickly by medics from the nearby Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue station on Second Street West. Victor received a bump on his head while Martina was treated for several large cuts on her hands.

“Overall, we are very grateful that things ended – relatively speaking – as good as they did and we want to remark upon and thank the emergency responders, hospital personnel and restaurant owner (who was very cooperative) as well as people of Sonoma for their professionalism and care,” Victor said in an email to the Index-Tribune. He said the two were on their way back to New York City on Friday.

One patron, who was seated at the bar watching a Clippers-Oklahoma City NBA game on TV, shrugged at the wind whipping into the building, said, “It’s no big deal,” and continued sipping his drink.

Friday morning, a large palm in front of Westamerica Bank snapped off about 20 feet from the ground.

Power was out all over the Valley. Jana Morris, a spokesperson for PG&E, said there were 56 outages reported in Sonoma, affecting 19,288 customers.

“Some of those customers could have been counted more than once if they were affected by more than one outage,” she said.

One neighborhood in Agua Caliente lost power from about 6 to 8 p.m., and then again from 9:30 p.m. to 3:15 a.m.

There weren’t as many outages up Valley. Morris said there were 10 outages in Glen Ellen affecting 212 customers and 14 outages in Kenwood affecting 1,449 customers.

Valley fire department personnel were busy with all the downed power lines and trees. But they were also called on to send a strike team over to a wildfire in Napa County.

The strike team, comprised of engines and crews from Sonoma Valley Fire and Rescue, Glen Ellen, Schell-Vista, Kenwood and Rincon Valley were sent to a 300-plus acre wildfire near Silverado Trail in Napa County.

Sonoma Valley Division Chief Spencer Andreis, who led the strike team, said they were called up at about 11 p.m. and they spent most of the night on structure defense and helping with the fire suppression efforts.

The strike team was released at about 10:30 a.m. Friday, but another strike team was later sent to a massive wildfire at The Geysers near Cloverdale. Sonoma Valley, Schell-Vista and Glen Ellen were among almost two-dozen agencies fighting the 3,500-acre McCabe fire. As of Monday, the fire was 75 percent contained, but it took almost 1,700 personnel to contain the blaze, the cause of which is still under investigation.