Progress in fighting the Hennessey Fire yielded two major results Friday: the 4,000 or so people living in the greater Angwin area can return to their homes and St. Helena Hospital announced it would resume seeing patients Saturday after a 10-day closure.
Napa County announced at mid-day that mandatory evacuations had been lifted for the ridgetop community of Angwin, home to Pacific Union College, as well as all of Atlas Peak Road outside Napa.
On Thursday, evacuation orders were lifted for Deer Park including St. Helena Hospital, with the hospital announcing Friday that it would again be treating patients as of 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
Licensed for 151 beds, the hospital will be reestablishing all services, including the Emergency Room which also closed due to the fire danger on Aug. 19, said Linda Williams, the hospital’s communications manager.
Two regulatory agencies toured the hospital Thursday to verify the hospital’s readiness to again treat patients, Williams said.
This was likely the first time in over a century that St. Helena Hospital, founded in 1878, had to shut its doors, Williams said. The facility’s proper name is now Adventist Health St. Helena.
Without patients to care for, the staff was able to give the facility an intensive cleaning. “The hospital has never looked so good. Everything is spic and span,” Williams said.
The hospital’s off-site clinics in Napa, St. Helena and Calistoga had remained open during the fires.
Both the Napa-centered Hennessey Fire and the larger, all-encompassing LNU Lightning Complex fires showed little growth overnight, Cal Fire reported Friday morning.
The Hennessey Fire grew by a little more than 2,000 acres, and has now blackened a total of 313,536 acres in four counties, Cal Fire said. The fire has been considered 33% contained for the past day, with most growth in Yolo and Lake counties.
The northwest tip of the Hennessey Fire, burning just south of Middletown in Lake County, remains the top priority Friday for firefighting efforts on the LNU Lightning Complex fires, Cal Fire officials said.
“We’re going to try and close up this last piece of line down through the area immediately above Angwin and Calistoga and some other communities in Napa County,” said Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Chris Waters at a Friday morning briefing.
Around the breadth of the Hennessey Fire, Waters said that “a lot of repopulation efforts will be taking place and trying to get folks back home.” Specifics were not announced.
Lightning-caused fires raced through dry chaparral and woodlands starting Aug. 17 before moderating weather and a growing army of firefighters gained the upper hand this week. The LNU Lightning Complex is the second-largest in California history.
During peak evacuations, some 17,000 Napa County residents were ordered to evacuate their homes. Evacuations remain in place in many parts of rural Napa County near Lake Berryessa.
Cal Fire said it is trying to make sure that it has firm control over burned areas before additional evacuation orders are lifted.
The LNU Lightning Complex, which includes several fires in Sonoma County, now totals 371,249 acres and is 35% contained, Cal Fire reported.
The fires have destroyed 1,080 structures in five counties, but the count is not complete, Cal Fire reported.
Cal Fire said smoke would continue to intrude into the skies over Napa County due to the many fires burning in the region. Air quality was expected to be moderate in Napa on Saturday.
Bay City News contributed to this story.
Editor’s Note: Because of the public safety implications of the wildfires, we are providing access to this article free of charge. To support local journalism, please visit https://napavalleyregister.com/members/join/ and consider becoming a member.