Firefighters continue to battle a destructive wildfire that has leveled nearly two dozen homes and charred tens of thousands of acres in Northern California's wine country.
The Kincade Fire in northern Sonoma County has scorched more than 29,955 acres, destroyed 77 structures, including at least 31 homes, and triggered evacuation orders across the region. The blaze is 11% contained and is threatening more than 23,000 structures, Cal Fire said Saturday.
As of 8:30 p.m. additional evacuation warnings have been issued for zone nine of the Kincade Fire, which includes all areas east of the western city limit, north of Guerneville Road, Steele Lane, Lewis Road and Chanate Road to Montecito Avenue to Montecito Blvd. to Calistoga Road, north to the city limit.
As of about 8 p.m. Saturday officials have confirmed that Sutter Hospital in Santa Rosa is under evacuation orders and patients are being transported.
Fire officials have confirmed as of 6:24 p.m. Saturday that all areas previously under evacuation warning are now under mandatory evacuation. These include Dry Creek Valley, Larkfield and Mark West Drainage and all areas West of Healdsburg and Windsor throughout the Russian River Valley to Bodega Bay.
Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick and other officials late Saturday emphasized that evacuation orders need to be taken seriously. "You cannot fight this fire," Essick said.
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Essick also asked residents who have knowledge of neighbors who may need extra help evacuating to check on them.
In addition to the evacuations in place for Geyserville and surrounding communities, officials on Saturday afternoon ordered mandatory evacuations in Healdsburg and Windsor.
Officials said the evacuation orders are the largest in Sonoma County in at least 25 years. Evacuation centers are located at the Santa Rosa Vets Hall, the Petaluma Fairgrounds, and the Petaluma Vets Hall.
Other evacuation orders that have been issued in Sonoma County: Ida Clayton Road, North to Highland Ranch Road at Campbell Road, East of Hwy. 101 between Asti Road and Alexander Valley Road to the Mendocino and Lake County Lines, including Lakeview Road and extending South along the Lake and Sonoma County Like to Ida Clayton Road. These evacuation orders include residents on Ida Clayton Road.
Additional evacuation warnings have been issued for north of Hwy. 101 from the Sonoma and Napa County lines, east of Hwy. 128 to Ida Clayton Road.
Other evacuation warnings have been issued for the communities of Gifford Springs, Whispering Pines, Anderson Springs, Hobergs and Cobb Mountain. Evacuation warnings were also in effect for residents of Fort Flat Road and Socrates Mine Road.
Non-life threatening injuries were reported at about 6:20 p.m. Friday when a firefighter discovered two evacuees who were seeking safety. The fire intensified and the firefighter was forced to deploy his fire shelter. All three were transported to a local hospital and are expected to survive, officials confirmed.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday declared a state of emergency in Sonoma County due to the destruction and hardship caused by the blaze. The emergency proclamation was also issued in Los Angeles County where crews continue to fight the Tick Fire.
Kincade Fire Rips Through Rural Sonoma County
The Kincade Fire broke out Wednesday night northeast of Geyserville. Flames fanned by roughly 60 mph wind gusts raced toward the town, forcing an evacuation order for the entire community.
Among those fleeing was 81-year-old Harry Bosworth, who awoke before sunrise Thursday to find a firetruck and firefighters in his driveway. As he and his wife drove off, flames surrounded their driveway and their barn caught fire.
"I could see the fire coming, so we got the heck out of there," Bosworth said after escaping to his daughter's house in the neighboring town of Healdsburg.
Calmer winds on Thursday and Friday helped the roughly 1,300 fire personnel on scene get a handle on the flames, but stronger gusts in the weekend forecast had firefighters racing to gain even more containment.
The fire was whipped up by high winds that prompted PG&E to impose sweeping blackouts affecting about 500,000 people in Northern and Central California.
The utility says power was restored to most people by Thursday evening but is warning of another broad shutdown that could affect 2 million people starting Saturday.
The blackouts were instituted after utility electrical equipment was blamed for setting several blazes in recent years that killed scores of people and burned thousands of homes.
PG&E said Thursday it didn't deenergize a 230,000-volt transmission line near Geyserville that it said malfunctioned minutes before the Kincade Fire erupted.
The company filed a report with the state utilities commission saying it found a "broken jumper" wire on a transmission tower around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday.
PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said it was too soon to know if the faulty equipment started the fire. He said the tower had been inspected four times in the past two years and appeared to have been in "excellent condition."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.