California Firefighters Race To Contain Fires As Winds Pick Up

Firefighters battle blazes in the north and south during small window of favorable conditions

Firefighters knew their respite would not last in Northern California.

There, in Sonoma County, the massive Kincade Fire has consumed more than 75,000 acres — well over twice the size of San Francisco — in a span of six days. And after a brief lull overnight, the gusty winds that have been powering the blaze are expected to roar back to life by Tuesday evening.

The National Weather Service in the Bay Area is warning that the return of those winds, combined with continuing low humidity and high temperatures, will offer ideal conditions for the fire’s spread Tuesday morning into Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re in this critical 24-hour window,” Ryan Walbrun, a meteorologist with the NWS, said at a news conference Tuesday. “We’re hopeful that after we get through this wind event, things do look favorable for the next five to seven days.”

The short-term forecast is unwelcome news for the more than 4,500 fire personnel who are assigned to battle the blaze, and who have struggled through steep terrain and narrow roads to bring the fire to just about 15% containment. So far more than 120 structures have been destroyed, and two firefighters have been injured. No fatalities have been reported.

Fire officials say they don’t expect to have the wildfire fully contained until Nov. 7.