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Highway 29, Silverado Trail Reopened; Firefighters Gain 82 Percent Containment; 642 Homes Destroyed In Napa, Sonoma Counties

ST. HELENA (CBS SF) — Across Wine Country a sense of normality was beginning to take grip early Saturday as major roadways closed by the threat of the Glass Fire were reopened, neighborhoods in St. Helena, Calistoga and Angwin repopulated, less smoke was visible on the horizon and utility crews were busy restoring electrical power to once evacuated homes.

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As of Saturday morning, the Glass Fire burn zone had grown to 67,484 acres with 82 percent containment, but a once promising weather front and the showers it would produce, never arrived.

“Crews experienced minimal fire behavior throughout the night on the Glass Fire,” Cal Fire said in a Saturday morning update. “These conditions consisted of creeping and smoldering fire behavior within the current perimeter.”

There were a few mandatory evacuations still in place, but the majority had been either completely lifted or reduced to warnings that allowed residents to return to their homes.

But for more than 640 families, their return home was not celebratory. Cal Fire damaged assessment teams reported as of Saturday morning, at least 642 homes had been destroyed in Sonoma and Napa counties. Another 157 homes had received some kind of damage.

Among those who lost their home was Mike Christianson and his wife, Mluz Torres. They had watched in horror as the flames engulfed their Napa County home while they were evacuating during the fire’s early hours.

“It was within five minutes, the entire side of the hill was on fire. All trees, all burning, all roaring like a jet,” he said. “And at that moment, we realized that it was time to go. So we grabbed a few things, jumped in the car.”

Others were relieved to find their homes still standing.

“You know, I thought it was going to be a

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Permits portend new-home gain

Barring another economic hiccup, White Hall is on track to build more homes this year than in 2019.

According to White Hall statistics, there have been 29 new permits issued to date for single and multifamily home construction, along with another three commercial construction permits.

In 2019, the city issued 32 new-home construction permits and two commercial permits, said Mayor Noel Foster.

The city already has exceeded its 2019 commercial building stats, and Foster said, “Yes, I think we will meet or exceed 2019 numbers.”

These numbers don’t include other permitted construction projects, including four home swimming pools, three home additions, 16 storage units like stand-alone shop not little portable ready-to-purchase units, said Larry Reynolds, Southeast Arkansas Regional Planning Commission director. Adding these brings the total number to about 40 as of Sept. 30, Reynolds said.

“I don’t think construction has slowed down. In fact, I think covid-19 has helped the construction business,” Reynolds said.

This includes do-it-yourself projects as well as professional builders. Reynolds’ comments are backed up by national news about traffic and profits rising at big-box home improvement retailers that, when the pandemic struck, were prepared for a huge downturn. Lumber prices are also high because demand has outstripped supply.

Reynolds said he’s not surprised with all the folks who were asked to work from home during the statewide shutdown, and for many the paychecks didn’t stop. Both Foster and Reynolds are confident in White Hall’s building future, in large part because the city just approved plans for three subdivisions. One of those may not happen at this point.

“Preliminary plans have been approved,” Foster said.

The two projects’ plats were designed by the civil engineering firm, Lemons Engineering Consultants Inc.of Cabot for developers.

One subdivision, Cannon Addition, has room for 30 homes, and it’s located near

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