Hundreds of local citizens filled out the Council Chamber at City Hall Wednesday night, seeking answers to questions that have been simmering all week with wildfires continuing to encircle Napa County.
It was the second community meeting of the day, just five hours after an assembly at Browns Valley Elementary School, as city officials tried to provide some face time and ease tensions from the fire threat.
The focus was on “quality of life” issues and helping attendees navigate everything that comes with potential evacuation. Although reiterating the importance of simply following directives was also a theme.
Police Chief Steve Potter gave a sober assessment of the fire threat, saying, “If this thing is contained in three weeks, I’ll be amazed.”
No mandatory evacuations were in effect Wednesday in the city, but the city had advised residents to be prepared and have a bag packed in the threat worsened.
Potter recommended two information hotlines – one for the county (707-253-4501) and one for the city (707-258-7817).
Ears perked up when Pacific Gas & Electric spokesperson Denny Boyles was given the microphone. As of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, 53,000 customers in the North Bay were still without electricity, including 5,500 in Napa County.
PG&E has shut off lines to 47,000 North Bay customers proactively to protect properties throughout the region. Two thousand of those are in the Silverado area, he said.
Crews were out assessing service repairs in areas that Cal Fire had determined to be safe, he said.
Fire Chief Steve Brassfield walked through the stages of evacuation notices, which first start with advisories notifying recipients to be prepared for a potential evacuation. Once they give an order to evacuate, residents should be prepared to not come back for at least four to seven days, he said.
Cal Fire representative Chris Anthony, who has been part of the incident management team, said this week's Napa area fires have been "a very significant event, not only for this area but the entire state of California.”
“What we’re seeing is historic, and unfortunately we’re seeing this more often than we ever have before around this state over the past two years. And these fires only seem to get larger and more damaging, and obviously have huge impacts on everyone that’s affected by these fires,” Anthony said.