Authorities ordered a partial evacuation of the city of Calistoga early Wednesday, announcing a mandatory evacuation in the northern part of the city and advising residents in the rest to leave voluntarily.
The Tubbs fire, which broke out north of Calistoga on Sunday evening and spread west to Santa Rosa, turned around and spread north and east on Tuesday, engulfing part of Mount St. Helena. Flames were visible from Calistoga Tuesday night as one spur of the mountain burned.
Authorities said they are concerned by the possibility of the return of strong winds through the day on Wednesday and into the end of the week, but this time blowing from the north instead of from the east, as they blew Sunday night. That could carry the blaze from Mount St. Helena toward Calistoga.
"Obviously we saw the fire break out here and spread to Santa Rosa with amazing speed, so we're concerned," Mayor Chris Canning said shortly before 6 a.m., "cautiously optimistic but concerned."
The evacuation order came about 3 a.m., with police sweeping through neighborhoods rousing residents by about 4 a.m. Canning estimated about 2,000 people were evacuated. Hotels and resorts in the area were also evacuated.
Calistoga had hosted one of the official evacuation centers from Sunday's blazes, housing people at the Napa County Fairgrounds. Canning said only a few people remained at the shelter Wednesday morning and all of those would be evacuated. The fairgrounds will become a staging area for firefighters and law enforcement.
Elsewhere, the Veterans Home in Yountville began to evacuate residents Tuesday evening as fire spread to Mt. Veeder, but officials there stopped short of completely evacuating.
St. Helena police, meanwhile, said there are no evacuations in that area, though they are watching both the blaze near Calistoga and the fire on Mt. Veeder.
Evacuation orders remain in effect in the fires surrounding Napa on both the east and the west and evacuations spread to Solano County on Tuesday as the Atlas Fire spread east.
The death toll in the North Bay stood at 17 as of Wednesday morning, mostly in hard-hit Sonoma County, where fire burned well into the city of Santa Rosa and separate fires ravaged the Glen Ellen and Kenwood areas. More than a dozen fires are burning in Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties.