Calistoga officials sternly warned any remaining residents to leave ahead of what is expected to be a major firefighting effort.
A day after ordering a complete evacuation of the city of about 5,000, the city issued a strong statement, threatening to forcibly remove anyone who stayed behind.
“It is imperative for any people who refuse to leave to do so immediately,” the city said in a public alert at about 9 a.m. on Thursday. “Individuals failing to leave distract first responders. Their presence interferes with Fire and Police personnel to respond to fires. Individuals failing to leave may be subject to arrest.”
Mayor Chris Canning was somber at a morning press conference with fire officials in Napa.
“Happy to report, despite some previous incorrect reporting from some in the media, there is currently no fire activity inside the city limits of Calistoga. There are no structures impacted,” he said. “With that said, we are facing a very serious condition. The fire is becoming closer to the city limits.”
He issued a stark warning to those who stayed behind or who might consider trying to get a better view of the situation.
“Your presence in Calistoga is not welcome if you are not a first responder,” he said. “Your choice to stay, and there have been very few of them, is a distraction to our first responders. You will not be given life safety support at this point. You are on your own.”
“If you are trying to visit Calistoga, you are not welcome. That’s very hard for us to say, because we’ve been known since the 1800s to be a very hospitable community, but that’s not helpful at this point …. to the Calistogans out there who are scattered around, stay strong.”
Calistoga is threatened by the Tubbs fire, the same fire that broke out north of town Sunday night and spread west to devastate parts of Santa Rosa. The fire has continued to burn near Calistoga, meanwhile, and spread to the flanks of Mount. St. Helena.
Winds are expected to pick up from the north over the next several days, which could push the fire into the city, though so far there is no fire inside city limits.
The city release on Thursday said the fire had jumped Highway 29 over the mountain, increasing the possible threat to the city.
A partial evacuation order was issued early Wednesday, with a complete evacuation order in place by the middle afternoon.
It was not immediately clear how many people refused to evacuate.