SANTA ROSA — A fast-moving wildfire that tore across Napa and Sonoma counties in the early hours of Monday morning destroyed homes on the eastern edge of this city and forced at least 70,000 North Bay residents to flee, many in hasty late-night evacuations.
But there was better news by Monday evening, when firefighters that had been struggling at the start of the day to defend homes and neighborhoods were cautiously optimistic that weather conditions had turned in their favor, as the ferocious dry winds that drove the fire’s explosive growth appeared to have died down.
“We don’t have those critical burning conditions that we were experiencing those last two nights,” Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls said at a briefing late Monday. Fire crews, he said, “are feeling much more confident tonight when we were last night.”
The Glass Fire, the largest in the Bay Area and one of 27 blazes currently burning around California, more than tripled in size Monday to cover 36,236 acres as of around 5 p.m., with zero containment, according to Cal Fire. The entire city of Calistoga was ordered to evacuate Monday evening.
The blaze is made up of three fires that merged late Sunday and raced across the landscape. Nicholls said strong winds hurled embers over the Napa River and nearby vineyards, sparking spot fires on both sides of the Napa Valley