SAN FRANCISCO — Northern California’s wine country was on fire again Monday as strong winds fanned flames in the already scorched region, destroying homes and prompting overnight evacuation orders involving nearly 70,000 people. Meanwhile, three people died in a separate fire further north in the state.
Residents of the Oakmont Gardens senior living facility in Santa Rosa boarded brightly lit city buses, some wearing bathrobes and using walkers. They wore masks to protect against the coronavirus as orange flames marked the dark sky.
The fire threat forced Adventist Health St. Helena hospital to suspend care and transfer all patients elsewhere.
The fires that began Sunday in the famed Napa-Sonoma wine country about 45 miles north of San Francisco came as the region nears the third anniversary of deadly wildfires that erupted in 2017, including one that killed 22 people. Just a month ago, many of those same residents were evacuated from the path of a lightning-sparked fire that became the fourth-largest in state history.
“Our firefighters have not had much of a break, and these residents have not had much of a break,” said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire.
Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin evacuated her home in the Oakmont community of Santa Rosa about 1 a.m. She is rebuilding a home damaged in the 2017 fires. Gorin told the San Francisco Chronicle that she is numb, and the situation feels surreal.
“It’s like God has no sympathy, no empathy for Sonoma County,” she said.
More than 68,000 people in Sonoma and Napa counties have been evacuated in the latest inferno, one of 27 major fire clusters burning across the state, said Berlant. Many more residents have been warned that they might have to flee, even though