With fires to the north and south, no areas of St. Helena were under evacuation Wednesday morning, but the city is encouraging residents to be ready to leave if necessary.

The closest fires are north of Calistoga and on Mount Veeder to the south. Even though all current fires are approximately 10 miles away from St. Helena, the community is expected to be entering a critical wind/weather event anticipated to begin around 9 a.m., Wednesday, the city said in a statement released Tuesday night.

Winds are predicted to be volatile, with gusts of more than 30 mph.

The city is encouraging all residents to pack a “Ready-to-go Bag” with all essential papers and medicines and be prepared to leave on short notice.

Further updates will also be made through the city website at cityofsthelena.org, the Police Department’s Facebook page, and through Nixle, the local community alert and advisory system. To join Nixle, text your zipcode to 888777.

Power outage

hits St. Helena

On Monday morning, only five businesses were open in downtown St. Helena because there was no power throughout town. Instead of stoplights on Main Street, there were stop signs and traffic backed up as Silverado Trail was closed near Yountville.

Power was restored at city hall on of Tuesday morning, according to PG&E, and sporadically throughout town on Tuesday afternoon.

On Tuesday morning, there was an A-frame sidewalk sign on Library Lane advising folks that the Napa Valley Vintners’ satellite offices were either at Honig Winery or the CIA at Copia.

There was a sign on the gate at Beringer Vineyards stating that the winery was closed “due to the fires in the valley and loss of power.” Beringer, like many other businesses in downtown St. Helena, was closed both Monday and Tuesday.

One of the few businesses open was the Flyers gas station south of St. Helena on Tuesday morning, where there were long lines of cars waiting to fill up. Driving past the Oakville Grocery, the sign said “closed,” although the doors were wide open, even though there was no electricity in the store.

On Monday night, local chef Grant Showley and a dozen others, led by the Rev. Amy Zuniga of Grace Episcopal Church, cooked up a meal for some 200 people at Middletown’s Hope City. Showley said the crew made six big pans of vegetables, 6 pans of spaghetti and sauce, made chocolate moose, cut up a sheet cake, and provided four cases of juices, along with loaves of bread and peanut butter and jelly for the children.

Showley said the food was donated from the suddenly-nonoperative refrigerators at the Montessori School, which was out of power like everyone else in St. Helena. The evacuees were so appreciative for the food, which was prepared on the gas cooktops and oven at Grace Church. “We were cooking for three solid hours,” Showley said, adding they used votive candles to provide light in the church kitchen.

A St. Helena businessman who lives in Napa said it took him an hour and 15 minutes to drive from Napa to St. Helena Monday morning. Looking at the traffic headed south on Highway 29 through St. Helena, he said he’s going to wait a while, until the traffic cleared out.

The five businesses downtown that were open Monday were Steves Hardware, Brown’s Auto Parts, Safeway, Sunshine and Ana’s Cantina. Owner Ana Vigil-Footman said she had to be open, because people needed a place to gather and get information about the fires in the area.

Like the rest of St. Helena’s downtown, Ana’s Cantina did not have power, but Vigil-Footman said she would use candles. She asked one of her daughters to run across the street to Brown’s Auto and see if she could buy an emergency radio.

As employee Francisco Santa Cruz was sweeping the floor, Vigil-Footman was asked about cold beer and then asked her daughter to get ice and put it into buckets to keep the beer cold. She also said they needed to change the writing on the A-frame sidewalk sign from the weekend’s sidewalk sale to thanking the first responders.

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