While a fire threat of historic proportions unfolded in Sonoma County Sunday, Napa County coped with power outages affecting more than 30,000 households and businesses and an evacuation advisory issued for Calistoga.
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Napa was opening three emergency shelters to take in more than 1,300 of the 90,000 Sonoma County residents fleeing the Kincade Fire, after Cal Fire ordered new evacuations in Santa Rosa and other Sonoma County communities Saturday night.
An evacuation advisory was issued for the greater Calistoga area, the Napa Valley city closest to the blaze. Residents were told to prepare to leave if the Kincade Fire were to move toward town.
Strong winds created a multitude of outages throughout greater Napa Sunday. Trees fell across power lines and in a few cases houses and cars, knocking out traffic signals at numerous intersections. Countywide, PG&E tallied more than 40 spot outages at mid-day.
PG&E’s public safety power shutoff remained in force across parts of Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Napa, Oakville, Pope Valley, Rutherford, St. Helena and Yountville, with service likely to begin being restored Monday afternoon after the winds die down.
The utility imposed the power cuts starting Saturday afternoon in a bid to reduce the risk of wildfires sparked by PG&E equipment during what the National Weather Service called a “potentially historic offshore wind event.”
This was the third time this month that PG&E had ordered safety shutoffs in advance of Diablo winds sweeping through much of Northern California, and potentially there will be a fourth shutoff.
PG&E warned of another potentially widespread, strong and dry wind event starting Tuesday and lasting through mid-day Wednesday. The utility said it was considering turning off the power as a safety measure in Napa and 31 other counties.
It is possible that some customers who were proactively cut off on Saturday will not have had their power restored before Tuesday’s wind storm, PG&E said.
Overall, Sunday’s power shutdowns or outages affected 21,981 customers in and around the city of Napa, along with 5,982 in American Canyon, 1,463 in Yountville, 1,564 in St. Helena, 1,218 in Angwin and 4,906 in American Canyon, PG&E reported.
By midday, lights remained out and traffic signals flashed red on Soscol Avenue north of Lincoln Avenue, as well as on Trancas Street, the main commercial strip for north Napa.
Queen of the Valley Medical Center on Trancas was operating on generators, according to an attendant. Despite the shift to backup power, the hospital was receiving patients from Sonoma County hospitals that were evacuated with the Kincade Fire’s spread, according to Napa County spokesperson Noel Brinkerhoff.
Amid shops and strip malls unexpectedly shut down for the day, the Trancas Street Lucky supermarket managed to keep its doors open, using generator power to run essential equipment such as refrigeration, cash registers and an ice freezer that had been restocked four times by early afternoon to meet the demand from blacked-out neighborhood residents.
Wind gusts early Sunday peaked at 53 mph at Napa County Airport and 88 mph at Mount St. Helena, according to the National Weather Service.
Amid the wind gusts Saturday night and into the morning, Calistoga lost power about 2:30 a.m., but regained it at mid-morning. St. Helena’s downtown operated normally.
During the night PG&E’s temporary resource center tent at the Napa County Fairgrounds blew down in 80 mph wind gusts. A charging station was made available at the Calistoga fire station.
Meanwhile, Napa County spokesperson Brinkerhoff said shelter sites have opened in Napa to accommodate Sonoma County evacuees fleeing the Kincade Fire outside Geyserville, which Cal Fire said had grown to 30,000 acres with only 10 percent containment as of Sunday afternoon.
The shelter sites include the Napa Valley Expo at 525 Third St., with capacity for up to 700 people; the Napa Valley College main campus at 2277 Napa-Vallejo Highway (Highway 221), capacity 415; and the CrossWalk Community Church at 2590 First St., with room for 250.
PG&E has opened community resource centers at the Napa Valley Expo and St. Helena Catholic Church at 1255 Oak Ave. Resource centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Many schools began announcing closures for Monday due to the lingering power cutoff. Napa Valley College will shut both its Napa and St. Helena campuses, while the Napa Valley Unified School District will shut down entirely.
The Calistoga Unified School District also announced closures for Monday, saying many staff members live in Sonoma County communities under mandatory evacuation orders.