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Nuns Fire threatens City of Sonoma throughout Day Six of October Fires

Cal Fire Tulare captain Cody Dunn lights a backing fire with his drip torch to burn toward a section of the advancing Southern LNU Complex fire in the hills north of Highway 12 in Santa Rosa, California, on Saturday, October 14, 2017. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

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Here’s an update on news about the active fires in Sonoma County, with special attention to the Sonoma Valley. Compiled from Press-Democrat sources.

3:05 p.m.

A push by the fire burning in hills northeast of Sonoma Saturday destroyed multiple homes but by afternoon still was being held from the city.

“It was burning toward downtown Sonoma,” said Bret Gouvea, Cal Fire battalion chief helping manage the fires. “We put a lot of resources there and they’re beating it into the ground.”

“We’re still keeping it up and out of the city limits,” said Cal Fire’s Steve Crawford, operations chief.
The increased fire near Oakmont and Sonoma, as well as a battle to hold back flames on Mount St. Helena in Lake County, were the night’s main struggles.

But it also held successes, said officials. In many places that meant buffer zones and containment lines that held, despite increased winds. The Pocket fire and much of the Tubbs fire held steady during the night, officials said.

Cal Fire maps showing locations of containment lines for the fires included a short section of the western side of the Pocket fire and much of the southern portion of the Tubbs fire. The Nuns fire, the county’s largest at 46,000 acres, has a curving squiggle of containment line covering a large portion of the southern end, as well as around Glen Ellen. Those lines represented 10 percent of the fire’s perimeter.

1 p.m.

Gusty winds in hilly east Sonoma neighborhoods have created “islands of fires” according to firefighters, threatening homes on Lovell Valley Road.

Plumes of smoke and a rain of ash surround firefighters, who have found homes evacuated but animals left behind, including a chicken coop they were trying to protect.

Deer were seen running down the streets of east Sonoma to escape fires.

10:49 a.m.

Dispatchers have sent first responders to Jack London State Park for “artifact retrieval.” To this point there have not been any fires in the park.

8:55 a.m.

Several homes along Castle Road in east Sonoma near Bartholomew Park Winery have burned down. The location is less than 2 miles from the Sonoma Plaza.

8 a.m.

Fire is visible on the hills behind Ledson Winery & Vineyards in Kenwood.

7:50 a.m.

A new fire ignited north of Highway 12 and just a few miles west of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park Friday evening. It has burned 300 acres and it “growing rapidly,” said Cal Fire spokeswoman Amy Head.

The fire is burning between the Tubbs fire to the north and the Nuns fire to the south, Head said. She said it started off Pythian Road.

The new fire is what prompted early morning evacuation orders Saturday for eastern neighborhoods of Santa Rosa such as Skyhawk, Mountain Hawk and much of Rincon Valley.

7:20 a.m.

The Nuns fire has now scorched 46,104 acres and was 10 percent contained early Saturday according to Cal Fire reports. The fire, stretching along the Highway 12 corridor, is threatening eastern Santa Rosa and the city of Sonoma.

4:45 p.m.

CHP officers in Sonoma County are reporting many near-miss collisions in the last week they suspect stem from drivers looking at their phones due to the widespread fire situation.

“We have had a lot of close calls in the county,” said CHP spokesman Officer Jon Sloat, speaking at a press conference Saturday about the overall fire situation.

He said drivers may be trying to reach family or updating themselves on social media about the fires. Cell phones have been frequently buzzing with law enforcement and fire updates and evacuation notices.

“People think it’s a freebie because there is a disaster. No. You have to pay more attention than ever” he said, with police and fire vehicles often moving fast through the region and power outages leaving some intersections without working traffic lights and other changed conditions.

“If you do it behind the wheel you are putting everybody at risk,” Sloat said.