Inferno Engulfs Napa and Sonoma Counties | Wine Enthusiast
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Inferno Engulfs Napa and Sonoma Counties

More than 20,000 people have been evacuated in Napa and Sonoma, and in other counties, people are fleeing, due to the wildfires. The blaze, which began Sunday evening, has expanded into an inferno of at least 14 wildfires burning across eight counties, including Mendocino. More than more than 57,000 acres have been consumed, including 1,500 houses and other buildings, as well as an unknown number of vineyards and wineries. California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba Counties.

Since the fires broke out, there have been ten reported deaths and more than 100 people treated for injuries, including burns and smoke inhalation, at hospitals in Napa and Sonoma counties. According to officials, two patients with severe burns were in critical condition at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Napa County Public Information Kristi Jourdan told Wine Enthusiast, “We’re currently at zero containment for Atlas Peak. Life and safety preservation are the primary goals.”

So far, the flames have burned through 25,000 acres of Atlas Peak, 25,000 in Tubbs, 10,000 Redwood, and more areas continue to suffer.

The number of wineries and vineyards destroyed or damaged has yet to be reported, but winemakers are expressing concerns.

“The reports are that there is a lot of damage in Santa Rosa, with lots of friends that have lost everything,” Jeff Mangahas, director of winemaking for William Selyem’s, told Wine Enthusiast. “I finished the Russian River Valley harvest some 3 weeks ago. The Napa harvest is still ongoing with cool weather last week, there were still a lot of grapes still out there.”

A spokesman for Treasury Wine Estates reported, “Our focus is on ensuring all of TWE’s employees are safe and we are not sending people in harm’s way. The local fire crews and authorities are doing their best to work on containing the fires. At this stage, there is limited damage to our infrastructures and sites, however the fires are ongoing and we still have limited access to all of our different assets. The majority of our vineyards and wineries are not in the direct fire zones.”

Wineries that are reportedly affected include Signorello Estate in Napa, and Nicholson Ranch Winery and Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma.

Residents told of terrifying pre-dawn scrambles to flee the raging flames.

“Around 3 a.m., there was a lot slamming of doors, shouting, car engines revving, so, I get up and go downstairs,” Jake Palmgren, a 20-year-old custom crush worker told Wine Enthusiast. “My Dad comes in from outside and he tells me that our neighbor rang our doorbell saying that there’s a fire in Kenwood and its moving toward Glen Ellen, coming to Sonoma, and so we woke up and woke up our whole family and started getting things together, and then we moved to downtown Sonoma.

“We’ve been here since 4 a.m…. I’ve gone out to get hold of news, which hasn’t been much of a help,” Palmgren said, as thick smoke surrounded his grandparents’ Sonoma Valley home. “This is where we’ve taken refuge, but with all this smoke, you don’t want to be breathing that. It’s getting bad and we don’t have anyone here as far as fire trucks or police, at least in Sonoma Valley.”

Officials have called for air reinforcements to help battle the fires, which so far have been unable to be contained.

Wineries and Estates with Confirmed Damages

Additional reporting by Leslie Gevirtz and Lauren Mowery

Additional updates to come from our reporters on the ground as the story unfolds.

Follow the story on social media: #napafire and #sonomafire

Updated at 11:00 pm EST.