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Steele Fire

Onlookers at Headlands Drive and Woodhaven Court watch the advance of a wildfire in the Berryessa Highlands community in rural northern Napa County. The Steele Fire broke out late Saturday afternoon and spread to 150 acres, destroying eight structures, according to Cal Fire.

Cal Fire made progress on Sunday in corralling the weekend wildfire that erupted near Steele Canyon in the vicinity of Lake Berryessa.

The number of structures destroyed rose to eight, and the area burned remained at 150 acres, but containment went from 10 percent to 65 percent as of 6 p.m.

“Throughout (Saturday) night firefighters made excellent progress in stopping forward progress of the fire and continue to improve the fire lines,” Cal Fire said in a news release.

At 2 p.m., Cal Fire announced the reopening of Steele Canyon Road and Capell Valley Road, although Headlands Drive remained closed at West Ridge Drive South, including Woodhaven Court.

Evacuations were still in effect in the remaining closure areas but had been lifted elsewhere. An emergency shelter at Napa’s CrossWalk Community Church closed, the county Office of Emergency Services announced in a Nixle message.

The fire, whose cause remains under investigation, had a rapid start at about 4:33 p.m., and homes were destroyed before the fire response stopped its expansion.

Jessica Lopez Anaya, a Lake Berryessa resident who was driving to a celebration-of-life ceremony Saturday, said she saw flames from the area of Arroyo Grande Drive and went directly to the home where the event was being hosted.

“By the time I arrived, the fire was already up the hill, and (the host) and his guests were at homes on fire, seeking to get people out,” she said. “… It moved so fast, it was unbelievable. Then after it was assumed that all were safe, it became more dangerous as we he had heard what sounded like rounds possibly cooking off, and gas leaking, so we backed away.”

Cal Fire reported that 185 firefighters were working the blaze Sunday morning, with support from two bulldozers and two helicopters.

Gov. Jerry Brown included the Steele Fire when he issued an emergency declaration Saturday for fires in Lake and Mendocino counties. This declaration makes additional state aid available as necessary.

Farther north, a hospital that had been closed in the Lake County town of Lakeport because of the Mendocino/Lake county fires has reopened. Sutter Lake Hospital had evacuated 13 patients Saturday night but was told by emergency officials it could reopen Sunday as the fire risk to the hospital had been greatly reduced, the hospital said in a news release.

The Mendocino/Lake fires consist of the Ranch Fire off Highway 20 northeast of Ukiah and the River Fire north of Hopland. Each remained 5 percent contained Sunday afternoon and had burned 24,270 acres in total, destroying four residences.

Lakeport remains under mandatory evacuation, according to Cal Fire.

The Carr Fire in Shasta County near Redding remained 5 percent contained and had burned 89,194 acres, killing six people, destroying at least 517 structures and damaging at least 135 more.

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Information from Bay City News Service was used in this report.


City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.