What Fueled California's Lethal Wildfires That Seemed To Come Out Of Nowhere?

Firefighters made another night of steady progress against the wildfires burning in California’s wine country, gaining containment on four fires as temperatures dropped and winds died down.

More than 4,000 firefighters from across California worked to contain the fires. As of Monday morning, the 36,390-acre Tubbs fire was 70% contained; the 51,064-acre Atlas fire was 68% contained; and the 11,889-acre Pocket fire was 40% contained.

In the last week, the fires have scorched more than 200,000 acres, destroyed or damaged more than 5,500 homes, displaced 100,000 people and killed at least 41.

The Nuns fire claimed its first identified victim Monday morning, Cal Fire said. A private contract driver was delivering a tank full of water to help fight the Nuns fire when the large vehicle rolled over on Oakville Grade in Napa County around 7 a.m. Monday, killing the driver, according to Cal Fire and California Highway Patrol officials.

“This has been the deadliest week that we’ve experienced here in California… from wildfires,” Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said Monday.

Taken separately, the Tubbs fire ranks third on the state’s list of deadliest fires, claiming at least 22 lives, and the Redwood fire, responsible for eight deaths, ranks 10th on the list.

Firefighters were looking forward to light winds Monday, but high morning temperatures combined with low humidity could be a challenge for those battling the flames, Berlant said.

Crews gained more of a toehold against the 48,627-acre Nuns fire, which was 50% contained. But a smaller blaze next to the Nuns fire that ignited Saturday near the Oakmont neighborhood of Santa Rosa continued to cause trouble.

Overnight, the 875-acre blaze jumped over bulldozed fire breaks, and merged with a corner of the Nuns fire burning near Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Cal Fire officials told firefighters at a morning briefing at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The fire, called the Oakmont branch, was 15% contained.

“We’ve got ahold of this horse, but it’s bucking us still in some areas,” incident commander Bret Gouvea said. 

Some residents in the Oakmont area had not left their homes, Santa Rosa fire chief Tony Gossner said. Local law enforcement will be knocking on doors in an effort to change that.

“We’re going to do our best to get people out who don’t want to come out,” Gossner said.

The area where the Oakmont branch is burning is relatively sparsely populated, but if the fire moves west, it could threaten more than 2,000 homes west of Los Alamos Road, Gossner said.

 

Source : http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-northern-california-fires-live-coverage-hundreds-evacuated-blazes-ravage-napa-sonoma-20171009-htmlstory.html

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