UPDATED: As of Friday morning, the Tubbs Fire that roared through Santa Rosa early Monday morning was 25 percent contained, reflecting a night of huge progress by firefighters. The Atlas Fire in Napa county saw containment rise to 27 percent.
Here is the latest news on the fires in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Napa counties and the rest of the North Coast. The fires have consumed an estimated 180,000 acres and 3,500 structures.
The Atlas fire, which began in Napa and moved into Solano County, has put the Green Valley area in Solano County in danger. That area had mandatory evacuations earlier in the week.
“Additional resources are starting to give us the upper hand,” said Cal Fire deputy incident commander Barry Biermann in Napa.
Firefighters in Napa and Solano counties were warned Thursday morning that critical “red flag” conditions remain, with strong winds, low humidity and “extremely receptive fuels,” according to Thursday morning’s Cal Fire incident management plan for the Atlas and neighboring fires.
Despite continuing red flag conditions, forecasts called for cooler daytime temperatures and relatively light winds Thursday. Fire authorities were predicting a generally productive day.
Calistoga in Napa County was still a ghost town, apart from a few dozen residents who stayed behind and a Cal Fire incident command center at the Old Faithful Geyser in Calistoga
There is still concern for Calistoga and elsewhere, as officials expect winds between 10 mph and 20 mph Thursday night, and stronger seasonal winds over the weekend, Cal Fire spokeswoman Heather Williams said.
Those who return “are on your own,” said Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning, warning residents not to expect personal fire protection.
“If you are trying to visit Calistoga, you are not welcome,” Canning said. “To the Calistogans out there, stay strong.”
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is using Senga, a 3-year-old boxer from the Alameda County Search and Rescue Team as it searches for victims.
The death toll has climbed to 29 people.
Firefighters Thursday afternoon battled flare-ups in multiple areas, including in Lake County where flames had crossed Highway 29 and were burning on Mount St. Helena.
Just north of Sonoma firefighters also were fighting an active fire, working to keep the blaze from reaching the town. Northern areas of Sonoma are under mandatory evacuations. The town is under an advisory evacuation.
Some of the increased activity is from the lifting of the thick smoke blanket, allowing the breeze to pickup.
The Tubbs fire, which started near Calistoga before racing into Santa Rosa, also spread north and Wednesday night climbed to the top of Mount St. Helena, officials said. Thursday, firefighters were trying to keep it at bay, battling on the steep mountain.
Bert Bertelli, division chief for Cal Fire in Lake County, said firefighters had worked to open historical fire roads and old dozer lines used in prior fires to help them work the fire.
“We’ve got a plan in place and we’re aggressively shifting resources to address that,” Bertelli said.
The juggle for fire officials was in leaving enough resources to protect nearby Calistoga but get more equipment to the Highway 29 feet.
Several strike teams of firefighters from throughout Western states arrived Thursday to bolster the effort and relieve many local firefighters who have been on the effort since Sunday.
This story originally appeared in the Press Democrat.