Containment of Marin's Woodward Fire grows to 57%

Thursday, Sept. 3, 1:30 p.m.

As of Thursday morning, the Woodward Fire was 4,626 acres and at 57% containment, according to Marin County officials. The fire broke out on Aug. 18.

Wednesday, Sept. 2, 10:30 a.m.

Fighting the LNU Lightning Complex, Cal Fire updated its containment on the once-explosive Hennessey Fire to 74% containment, with 317,909 acres consumed in Lake, Napa and Solano counties as of Wednesday morning. The Walbridge blaze located west of Healdsburg is under control by 85% and remains at 54,940 acres. The fire complex has collectively destroyed 1,685 structures. The Woodward Fire has consumed 4,538 acres with 41% containment, according to Marin County officials.

Tuesday, Sept. 1, 1:15 p.m.

Cal Fire is gaining ground on the lightning-sparked wildfires that broke out Aug. 17, an advancement led by the tumultuous Hennessey Fire that roared over Napa, Solano and Lake counties. Containment of the Woodward Fire in Marin County is slowly improving, with heavy smoke one of the main challenges.

As part of and in line with the 375,209-acre LNU Lightning Complex that includes the Walbridge, Gamble, Spanish and Markley wildfires in the North Bay and beyond, the Hennessey blaze stands at 68% containment.

“For the most part, the weather has been in our favor,” Cal Fire spokesman Jeremy Rahn said of the agency’s progress on the Hennessey Fire. “We’re focusing on the north end now near Lake County and securing that line.”

The Hennessey inferno that decimated sections of Lake Berryessa and farmland north of Vacaville burns in rugged terrain of Lake County in the Cache Creek Natural Area in U.S. Bureau of Land Management territory. In particular, this 10,000-acre+ wildfire situated east of Highway 16 and south of Highway 20, a major east to west thoroughfare that crosses California, is on the state fire agency’s radar.

Tuesday morning, evacuation orders were scaled back to warnings for Butts Canyon Road to the Napa/Lake county line to include the Berryessa Estates subdivision. Evacuation warnings are still in place for Angwin, Berryessa Estates and Deer Park, as well as Aetna Springs and James Creek roads closed and under evacuation orders.

But conditions could change with 10- to 15 mph winds expected to pick up Tuesday afternoon, followed by a significant rise in temperatures by about 10 degrees over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

“This is why we’re trying to wrap this fire up,” said Cal Fire’s Sean Hendricks.

Also a part of the LNU Lightning Complex that has consumed 1,280 structures, the Walbridge Fire located west of Healdsburg in Sonoma County stands at 73% containment with 54,940 acres burned.

As of Tuesday morning, Cal Fire reported 15,600 firefighters working 19 major fires and complexes in the state. As they make progress on containment, many firefighters have focused a steely eye on hot spots in residential areas where the risk of loss of life and property damage are substantial.

On Monday, a firefighter died battling the August Complex in Mendocino County, Cal Fire reported. A second received medical attention. The incident brings the number of fatalities to eight.

Since the Aug. 15 lightning siege’s reported nearly 14,000 strikes, more than 900 wildfires have ignited, burning 1.48 million acres in the state.

The Woodward Fire in Point Reyes National Seashore grew to 4,465 acres overnight and rose from 17% to 25% containment, Marin County’s fire incident management team reported Tuesday morning.

“The challenge has been, and continues to be, the fuel we’re operating in,” said Jason Weber, Marin County fire chief. “In talking with some of the dozer operators that were out working on this fire, they said this is some of the heaviest fuel they’ve ever worked in.”

The smoke is one of the greatest challenges the community is facing, with Novato and the South Marin area some of the hardest hit, he said, acknowledging frustrations heard from the community.

“This isn’t something we’re trying to extend or prolong,” Weber said. “This is really Mother Nature that is challenging us. We have just enormous amounts of fuel, we have a fog layer (and inversion) that is holding the smoke in.”

The wind forecast this weekend will push the smoke out of some of these areas, he said.

As of Tuesday, there are 567 personnel assigned to the Woodward Fire, including currently 13 crews, 36 engines, five helicopters, four planes, five bulldozers, two masticators and five water tenders, Marin County officials said.

Cheryl Sarfaty contributed to this report.

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