High winds Thursday morning were pushing smoke from a fast-spreading wildfire in Butte County into Sonoma County, prompting an air quality advisory and rattling the nerves of residents who survived last year’s devastating North Bay wildfires.
Brad Sherwood said he stepped out of his office shortly after noon under skies turned ominously brown from the faraway blaze and was instantly shaken.
“It wasn’t the smoke, it was the smell,” he said. “It sent chills through my body.”
There were no fires burning in Sonoma County, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Spencer Crum said.
Emergency dispatchers are fielding calls from citizens concerned about the smoke from the fast-moving Camp fire, burning more than 100 miles northeast of Santa Rosa, he said.
It was more than enough to renew dark memories of the fires that destroyed more than 5,300 Sonoma County homes exactly 13 months ago, Sherwood said. His Larkfield home, leveled by the Tubbs fire, is under reconstruction.
“Those emotions are still raw,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to trigger them.”
Sherwood, who is on the Mark West Union School District board, said he was glad to learn that students at Riebli Elementary School — including his two children — were eating lunch inside and that counselors had been called to the school.
“I kind of wish I was with them now,” said Sherwood, a Sonoma Water employee.
The Camp fire, which has burned at least 5,000 acres outside of Chico, ignited Thursday morning, according to Cal Fire. It’s prompted the evacuation of nearby towns.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued an air quality advisory spanning from Thursday afternoon through Friday. The district isn’t anticipating that the air quality will exceed federal health standards.
Some Sonoma County fire agencies, including Petaluma, Windsor and Sonoma Valley are sending crews to help battle the blaze.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.