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California wildfire destroys over 550 homes as fire crews increase containment, ‘turned the corner’

A wildfire burning in Northern California’s famed wine country has now destroyed over 550 homes, but officials said Monday they were hopeful as containment of the blaze increased overall.

Cal Fire said as of Tuesday morning the Glass Fire that’s burning in Napa and Sonoma counties has scorched some 66,840 acres and is now 50% contained.

“We have turned the corner on the fire as a whole,” Cal Fire division chief Ben Nicholls said during a briefing in Sonoma County.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE SURPASSES 1 MILLION ACRES AS AUGUST COMPLEX DUBBED ‘MEGAFIRE’

Over 2,700 fire personnel are involved in the battle against the blaze, with some 408 fire engines deployed in the fight against the two-county blaze, according to the agency.

“We are the priority for the state here,” Nicholls said Monday.

In this Sept. 28, 2020, file photo, houses leveled by the Glass Fire are viewed on a street in the Skyhawk neighborhood of Santa Rosa, Calif.

In this Sept. 28, 2020, file photo, houses leveled by the Glass Fire are viewed on a street in the Skyhawk neighborhood of Santa Rosa, Calif.
(AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

The blaze has destroyed some 553 homes, with 297 in Sonoma County and 256 in Napa County that have been lost so far. The wildfire is still threatening over 21,000 structures, according to fire officials.

A firefighter runs past flames while battling the Glass Fire in a Calistoga, Calif., vineyard Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.

A firefighter runs past flames while battling the Glass Fire in a Calistoga, Calif., vineyard Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.
(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The wildfire has also damaged or destroyed at least 18 wineries, with many locations reporting major damage.

“We have a little half an acre here that got pretty scorched,” Lisa Drinkward of Behrens Family Winery told KTVU.

A chimney stands at a Fairwinds Estate Winery building, which burned in the Glass Fire, on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in Calistoga, Calif.

A chimney stands at a Fairwinds Estate Winery building, which burned in the Glass Fire, on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in Calistoga, Calif.
(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Nearly 3,000 people remain under mandatory evacuation orders in Sonoma County, while 13,000 are under warnings and may need

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Fire crews in Angwin fight flames along Hwy 29 and save homes amid Glass Fire

ANGWIN, Calif. (KGO) — Fire crews were holding the eastern flank of the Glass Fire on Thursday night.

Bulldozers and an army of fire engines from up and down the West Coast, lined up along Highway 29 where it winds up through a forest, north of Calistoga.

“On this portion, the fire behavior is calm and the winds are in our favor,” said Kyle Breaw, who is part of a Calfire hand crew out of Santa Clara, charged with ensuring the flames don’t cross the dozer line and highway.

RELATED: Glass Fire updates: Wildfire grows to 60,000 acres, more than 220 homes burn in Napa, Sonoma counties

“The importance of holding it,” Breaw said, “is so it doesn’t cross over and burn into a new section or burn other homes.”

South in the community of Angwin, firefighters fought back flames for a second time this week, leaving smoldering fires next to days old burn scars.

“What we’ve had here today, what we’ve experienced on several fires this year is an area burns through what we call a dirty burn, where you have a lot of burned areas, but also a lot of unburned areas. The change in the wind and remaining high heat allows for the fire to come back through a second time,” said Acting Vallejo Fire Captain, Kevin Brown.

Brown says a team of fire crews stopped flames, which raced up an overgrown hill Thursday, alongside a winery on Bell Canyon Road.

“We’ve been working down in this drainage for hours. Fire was gaining steam as it made that uphill run towards us.”

WATCH: Glass Fire moves dangerously close to Angwin; wind a concern for firefighters in Sonoma Co.

Brown says their crew called for air support, which saved the property along with hours of chainsaw and yard

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Sonoma County fire crews dig in, spend the night beating flames back from homes

Firefighters were defending homes in the thickly wooded Los Alamos Road canyon Monday morning, where the Shady fire took hold in Sonoma County as embers from a wind-driven blaze in Napa County pushed west.

Crews were prepared to stay through the night to shield homes, though they had marked some losses.

Leading a strike team from Sonoma County agencies, Sebastopol Fire Battalion Chief Jack Piccinini said they were among the first to start defending homes on Los Alamos Road about 8:30 p.m. as the fire burned south from St. Helena Road.

They had been fighting the Glass fire in Napa County and insisted on being sent to Sonoma County when spot fires from that fire quickly started growing into significant threats to Santa Rosa.

“Our first objective was to get up here and make sure people were getting out,” Piccinini said. “There were a lot of people coming down the mountain as we were coming up.”

His crews helped people get animals into trailers and fixed a flat tire for people stymied as they tried to leave a house on a ridge above the road. Piccinini said the fire was on both sides of the road by the time they helped those people get on their way.

They went from house to house in this densely forested community, defending those they could. Some homes were lost to the flames.

As the fire front pushed south and west toward Highway 12 and the more densely settled floor of Sonoma Valley, Piccinini said his strike team would stay on the road overnight to ensure those homes they had saved remained protected from another spot fire or flare up.

“If we leave the structures too early then we come up and find it’s burned,” Piccinini said. “We can’t leave.”

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