Live updates: Northern Calif. wildfires cause estimated $3 billion damage; death toll still 40

Latest developments in the North Bay fires:

10:45 p.m. Redwood Valley Fire progress: Cal Fire reported that the Redwood Valley Fire in Mendocino County is 45 percent contained, at 35,800 acres. About 900 people are still under evacuation from the fire. Firefighters were making even better progress with the Sulphur Fire in Lake County, which is now 80 percent contained. That fire has burned 2,207 acres.

10:05 p.m. Power outage updates: Pacific Gas and Electric Co. expects to restore power Monday to almost all customers in Napa and Sonoma counties who are still without gas or electricity. Roughly 310,000 customers lost power in the fires that engulfed the North Bay, but more than 92 percent have been restored. Still, about 21,300 customers remained without gas or electricity Sunday night.

7:20 p.m. Progress on the Nuns Fire: With the Tubbs Fire more tame, firefighters focused Sunday on getting a handle on the Nuns Fire and were able to increase its containment to 40 percent. Earlier that day, the fire’s containment was only at 25 percent, according to Cal Fire. The fire measured at 48,627 acres as of Sunday night.

The Tubbs Fire also grew Sunday, with Cal Fire tallying its spread to 44,881 acres with a 60 percent containment, while the Pocket Fire was at 11,889 acres with a 30 percent containment and the Oakmont Fire was at 575 acres with a 15 percent containment.

The Atlas Fire was at 51,057 acres and 65 percent containment on Sunday night.

6:55 p.m. All evacuation advisories lifted in Healdsburg: Residents can now return home, according to Cal Fire.

6:40 p.m. Initial damage assessments for unincorporated Sonoma County: State Sen. Mike McGuire tweeted that the fires have destroyed 3,819 parcels — an estimated $2.019 billion in damages. Combined with Santa Rosa, “damage estimates top $3 billion,” McGuire wrote.

“Unfortunately, estimates are expected to grow this week,” he said.

5:50 p.m. Evacuation orders lifted in Sonoma County: Residents in portions of Larkfield-Wikiup can now return home without a law enforcement escort.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office opened all of Wikiup and the area north and east of Old Redwood Highway, except for:

The area east of 5339 Vista Grande Drive

The area east of Wikiup Drive at Wikiup Court

The area east of 889 Wikiup Drive, including Knollwood Court

The area east of Carriage Lane at Carriage Court

The evacuation order was lifted for the area north of the Larkfield Shopping Center that is outside the burned area, except for:

The area south of Londonberry Drive and Hatona Drive.

The area south of Lambert Drive and Hatona Drive.

The area off of Pacific Heights Drive at Old Redwood Highway

Any residents returning home should take Highway 101 North to the Airport Boulevard offramp, as Mark West Springs Road is still closed at the offramp.

4:30 p.m. St. Helena residents warned to be prepared: Though no advisory evacuation has been issued for the city of almost 6,000, Mayor Alan Galbraith asked residents to be ready to leave on short notice.

“Regrettably, our situation remains uncertain,” Galbraith said. “We cannot be sure that an advisory evacuation will not be ordered. We request that city residents monitor city media outlets at least hourly. We will promptly advise if there is a change in status. The prior advisory is in effect unless changed.”

The Nuns Fire, Napa County’s least-contained blaze, was still burning west of St. Helena Sunday afternoon. Galbraith advised residents to have a “ready-to-go bag” packed with “essential papers and medicine,” just in case the flames reach the city.

4:05 p.m. Vegetation fire prompts evacuations in Novato: A vegetation fire along Highway 101 in Novato prompted evacuations Sunday afternoon, officials said.

Caramel Court in Novato has been evacuated as the fire spread near Seventh Street and Caramel Court, according to Novato Police Department.

Authorities are asking residents to avoid the area so emergency crews can respond. The fire was initially spotted about 3 p.m. by numerous motorists on Highway 101 who called 911 to report seeing smoke billowing up from the west side of the freeway, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Andrew Barclay.

The fire was contained before 4:30 p.m., but residents were still being asked to avoid the area.

3:43 p.m. Solano County reopening roads: The Solano County Sheriff’s Office was reopening all mandatory evacuation areas throughout the county Sunday afternoon to residents with valid identification and is expected to open all roads that were block because of wildfires by 6 p.m.

Only residents will initially be allowed into the areas that had been evacuated. The Twin Sisters area remains without power, and until it returns, the area from Twin Sisters Road to Suisun Valley Road will stay closed to non-residents. The area was threatened by the Atlas Fire, which had burned 51,057 acres and was 56 percent contained Sunday, according to Cal Fire.

3:25 p.m. Spoiled food drop off in Mendocino County: As residents recover from wildfire-related power outages, county officials have prepared a safe area to dispose of waste and spoiled food. People can drop off spoiled food and other household waist on Monday at the Old Redwood Valley School and Potter Valley Rodeo Grounds from noon to 5 p.m., according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

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2:45 p.m. Oakmont Fire now the main concern in Sonoma County: The Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County was the deadliest of the Northern California wildfires — killing at least 18 people, but officials said Sunday that the Oakmont Fire is now the blaze they’re most worried about.

The Oakmont Fire fire was growing Sunday and expanding to the east and west, according to Steve Crawford, a Cal Fire operations chief. Although it was only 550 acres Sunday, the Oakmont Fire was 15 percent contained — which means the remaining 85 percent did not have control line installed to stop its spread, according to Cal Fire.

The four wildfires in the county — the Tubbs, Pocket, Nuns and Oakmont fires, have destroyed an estimated 3,470 structures. The 35,470-acre Tubbs Fire was 60 percent contained, the 11,246-acre Pocket Fire was 25 percent contained and the 47,106-acre Nuns Fire was 25 percent contained

“Right now my main area of concern is still in the Oakmont area,” Jonathan Cox, a Cal Fire spokesman, said Sunday afternoon. “That’s the one that’s been putting up the most smoke today.”

2:10 p.m. Mandatory evacuation order lifted for all of Calistoga: All Calistoga residents may return to their homes effective at 2 p.m. Sunday, according to Molly Rattigan, Deputy Executive Officer for Napa County. Only residents may enter the city. They can use Silverado Trail or State Route 29 to return, according to county officials. Calistoga had been threatened by the 35,470-acre Tubbs Fire — the most deadly of the Northern California wildfires — which had claimed at least 18 of the 40 lives lost, according to Cal Fire. It was 60 percent contained Sunday — a measurement of the amount of control line firefighters have placed along the edges of the wildfire to stop its spread.

1:40 p.m. Four additional wildfire victims in Sonoma County identified: Three Santa Rosa residents and one Glen Ellen resident were identified Sunday afternoon as among the 22 people killed in Sonoma County wildfires.

Santa Rosa residents Sharon Rae Robinson, 79, Daniel Martin Southard, 71, and Carmen Colleen McReynolds, 82, were named as victims Sunday along with Lee Chadwick Roger, 72, of Glen Ellen, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. Sonoma County was the hardest hit county in the Northern California wildfires, and claimed more than half of at least 40 confirmed fatalities.

1 p.m. Some mandatory evacuation orders lifted for Napa neighborhoods: The mandatory evacuation order for residents on Gordon Valley Road and Wooden Valley Cross Road was lifted effective noon Sunday, according to Napa County Sheriff’s Office. Evacuation advisories within Napa city limits were also lifted, although authorities asked residents to “exercise caution while emergency vehicles continue to operate within the area.”

12:10 p.m. Nuns Fire ‘
top priority

for Napa County, Atlas Fire ‘looking good’: Of the three fires burning in Napa County, the 47,106-acre Nuns Fire, which merged with four other wildland blazes in the area, was receiving the bulk of attention Sunday, according to fire officials.

The Nuns Fire was the least contained fire in the county, behind the Tubbs Fire and the Atlas Fire.

“The Nuns Fire is the top priority for us today,” Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann said at a Sunday news conference.

The Nuns Fire — a combination of the Adobe, Norrbom, Pressley, and Partrick wildfires — first started off Highway 12 north in Glen Ellen in Sonoma County and continued burning in its south and western sections Sunday morning, according to Cal Fire. The blaze was 25 percent contained, meaning about a quarter of the wildfire’s outer boundaries had control lines in place to stop the flames from spreading.

Also in Napa was the Atlas Fire, which Biermann said was “looking good,” and had burned through an estimated 51,057 acres but was 56 percent contained Sunday morning — more than twice the Nuns Fire.

Biermann said firefighters are monitoring the Tubbs Fire burning in Sonoma and Napa counties, which was 60 percent contained Sunday morning. It is the most deadly of the Northern California fires and claimed at least 18 of the 40 lives lost. The northeast section of the fire by Red Hill and Mount St. Helena was the most active part of the 35,470-acre blaze, and the fire was making “short uphill runs around to the north side of the peaks,” according to Cal Fire.

11:10 a.m. Evacuees gradually returning home in Mendocino County: Some neighborhoods in Mendocino County’s Redwood Valley, Willits and Potter Valley that were evacuated due to wildfires will be “repopulated” starting noon on Sunday, according to Cal Fire officials.

In Redwood Valley, areas south of Tomki Road from the intersection with East/West Road will allow residents re-entry. In Willits, the Pine Mountain subdivision and all areas between Eastside Road and Tomki Road south of Canyon Road will be reopened. For Potter Valley, areas west of the Gibson Lane and Hawn Creek Road intersection, along with areas west of the Busch Lane and North Busch Road intersection will be repopulated. Shale Lane north of Potter Valley Road will also be reopened to residents.

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10:45 a.m., Second evacuation shelter opens in Marin County: The Red Cross has opened a second shelter in Marin County to accommodate many of the 3,000 evacuated on Saturday in Santa Rosa, officials said Sunday.

The new shelter is at the former Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary at 201 Seminary Drive, in the Strawberry neighborhood of Mill Valley.

The Marin Center Exhibit hall at 10 Avenue of the Flags in San Rafael is the other Marin County shelter. It opened on Oct. 9, and has housed about 524 people since wildfires began in the North Bay.

9:45 a.m. Firefighters monitoring fire near Oakland Zoo in case of flare ups: Oakland firefighters contained a car fire that started about 4 a.m. Sunday and spread to Oakland Zoo property, officials said.

A Red Flag warning, signaling low humidity and high gusts, was in effect for the East Bay hills at the time the fire broke out. The warning expired at 8 a.m. as winds died down.

Firefighters plan to monitor the blaze for the next 24 hours out of an abundance of caution, given the series of deadly fires that broke out in the North Bay, officials said.

A car caught fire at Elysian Fields Drive and Golf Links Road and flames spread up steep terrain to the top of a hill at the edge of Oakland Zoo property. The fire spread a little more than an acre but was contained by about 6 a.m., said Acting Battalion Chief Frank Tijiboy.

9:25 a.m. Number of missing persons declines in Sonoma County: At least 172 people remain unaccounted for in Sonoma County, Sgt. Spencer Crum, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said Sunday morning.

Four fires raging in the county — the Tubbs, Nuns, Oakmont and Pocket fires — left 22 people dead, or more than half the total death toll of 40 in the Northern California wildfires.

Downed cell towers and faulty service initially resulted in at least 1,734 missing persons reports as people sought to reconnect with loved ones, officials said.

As winds lessened Sunday morning, containment numbers went up and 1,562 people reported missing were located, things seemed to be looking up.

“I think things are looking pretty good today. Winds are down,” Crum said. “I’m hearing some pretty positive news.”

8:45 a.m. Nearly 75,000 remain evacuated in Northern California wildfires: As light winds aided the progress of around 11,000 firefighters battling blazes across the state, some evacuations have been lifted.

An estimated 75,000 people remain evacuated across the state, down from an initial count of 90,000. Fifteen wildfires, including some that have merged with other fires, and have now burned more than 200,000 acres across the state, according to Cal Fire officials. At least 40 deaths have been confirmed in Northern California — including 22 in Sonoma County alone, according to Cal Fire officials.

8:10 a.m. Sonoma County — hardest hit by deadly wildfires — expects full containment by Friday: The wildfires that caused massive destruction and killed nearly two dozen people in Sonoma County are expected to be fully contained by Friday, Cal Fire officials said Sunday.

At least 22 people, more than half the current Northern California wildfire death toll of 40, have died in Sonoma County wildfires. Four wildfires in the county — the Tubbs, Pocket, Nuns, and Oakmont fires, have decimated an estimated 3,470 structures.

As of Sunday morning, the 35,470-acre Tubbs Fire was 60 percent contained, the 11,246-acre Pocket Fire was 25 percent contained, the 47,106-acre Nuns Fire was 25 percent contained and the 550-acre Oakmont Fire was 15 percent contained, according to Cal Fire reports.

Containment figures measure how much of the outer boundaries of the wildfires have been surrounded with control lines to stop the fire from spreading.

7:25 a.m. Deadliest of Northern California wildfires now 60 percent contained: The Tubbs Fire in Napa and Sonoma Counties burned through 35,470 acres and was 60 percent contained Sunday morning, according to the latest Cal Fire measurements. The Tubbs Fire was the deadliest of a series of Northern California wildfires that have claimed 40 lives since Oct. 8. The containment percentage represents how much of the outer edges of the fire have been surrounded by control line to stop the wildfire from spreading.

7:05 a.m. Hundreds of thousands lost power in wildfires, but most service restored: An estimated 310,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers lost power when a series of deadly wildfires broke out across Northern California, according to PG&E. By Saturday night more than 92 percent of customers had power restored. More than half of the 42,000 customers who lost gas remain without gas service, with service restored to about 16,800 customers, according to PG&E estimates.

6:45 a.m. Largest of deadly California wildfires now more than 50 percent contained: The Atlas Fire north of the city of Napa, burning in both Napa and Solano counties, has blackened an estimated 51,057 acres and was 56 percent contained Sunday morning, according to Cal Fire officials. Containment means firefighters have installed control lines along the outer boundaries of the wildfire to halt spreading. Although the Atlas Fire was the largest of the series of wildfires, the Tubbs Fire in Sonoma and Napa counties has been the most deadly, according to current fatality counts.

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6:17 a.m. Wildfires around city of Napa ‘
not getting worse
’: Lighter wind has lessened the threat of wildfires in the city of Napa but threatened air quality, Napa Police Department announced Sunday morning.

“It is a little smoky again in the city of Napa. Don’t you worry though, the fires immediately around the city of Napa are not getting worse and our amazing partners in the fire service are still in the area,” the department said in an statement early Sunday.

Officials advised residents to “mask up and stay safe” as the air quality measured at the “unhealthy” level early Sunday, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

5:30 a.m. Sonoma County begins wildfire damage assessment: County employees from the Permits and Resources Management Department have started to survey damage in unincorporated areas of Sonoma County’s evacuated wildfire zones, sheriff’s officials announced Sunday.

With heightened concerns of looting, residents who question the identity of employees should call the sheriff’s dispatch center at (707) 565-2121. But, officials said, the employees at the scene should be displaying Sonoma County identification cards and will be in cars marked with the county seal.

“This is a necessary and important process as it allows the county to determine what dangers may/may not be present and what repairs may/may not be needed before evacuation orders are lifted,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “In short, it’s a step closer to moving our displaced residents back home !!!”

Wildfires hit Sonoma County the hardest, with 22 fatalities — more than half of the 40 deaths recorded thus far in the Northern California fire disasters.

Three fires — the Tubbs, Pocket and Nuns — have decimated thousands of homes and structures in Sonoma County and continue to burn through more than 92,000 acres of land, said Deputy Barry Dugan of the Sonoma County Emergency Operations Center.

“We’re just in the process of doing surveys as the fire areas become accessible,” Dugan said. “I don’t think a final count is going to be available anytime soon.”

5:15 a.m. Lightest winds of the week bring better firefighting conditions: A red flag warning remained in place for the North Bay and East Bay hills as firefighters battling blazes in the Wine Country and beyond faced dry and windy conditions early Sunday.

The warning will remain in effect until at least 8 a.m. for the North Bay and East Bay Hills, but gusts should dissipate and winds will remain light throughout the day, according to Anna Schneider, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Gusts of up to 25 mph were recorded Sunday in the North Bay and East Bay hills, but should decrease by mid-morning to about 10 mph in Napa and Sonoma counties, where some fires continue to rage. Schneider said winds could die down to 5 mph through the rest of the day.

The winds are the lightest recorded since a series of wildfires broke out across Northern California on Oct. 8, claiming at least 40 lives and destroying thousands of homes and other structures. The weather should stay hot, though, with Sonoma and Napa counties forecast to reach the mid to upper 80s on Sunday.

“You definitely want lower temperatures, but wind and relative humidity are the most important things right now,” Schneider said.

Even more hopeful news: there’s a chance that some rain will reach the North Bay Thursday, as the the southern part of a winter storm from the gulf of Alaska nears the Bay Area.

For now, there’s no estimate of how much rain is expected — or if the parched areas in the fire zones will even get measurable precipitation.

“It’s too soon to really say,” Schneider said. “Hopefully, it’ll be enough to help.”


10:05 p.m. Sonoma County school closures: Santa Rosa Junior College will remain closed through Oct. 22, school officials decided late Saturday. Santa Rosa City Schools, the largest K-12 district in the county, will be closed through Oct. 20 at least. Several smaller districts outside Santa Rosa will resume classes as soon as Monday. For a full list of school closures in Sonoma County, go to the Office of Education website.

9:35 p.m. Update on Mendocino and Lake fires: The Redwood and Potter fires north of Highway 20 near Mendocino National Forest hit 35,000 acres and were 30 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. The Sulphur Fire in Clearlake Oaks, Lake County, was 2,209 acres and 70 percent contained.

Click here for earlier updates on the Northern California wildfires.

Jenna Lyons is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @JennaJourno