Firefighters hope for break in the wind as Kincade Fire grows past 66k acres

Blaze continues to disrupt services including Golden Gate Transit, local schools

The Kincade Fire continued to spread in Sonoma County late Sunday night and early Monday morning and has now burned 66,231 acres with only 5 percent containment, Cal Fire officials said in a morning update.

The acreage burned was up about 12,000 acres from Cal Fire’s Sunday evening update on the fire, which started Wednesday night near Geyserville and has prompted the evacuation of residents from east of U.S. Highway 101 all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

A list of evacuation zones, which now include parts of Napa County and added the Larkfield-Wikiup area of Sonoma County overnight, can be found here.

Containment on the fire dropped from 10 percent to 5 percent over the course of Sunday, and full containment isn’t expected until at least Nov. 7, according to Cal Fire. At least 96 structures have been destroyed, 16 are damaged, and nearly 80,000 others remain threatened.

Two firefighters were burned Sunday while battling the blaze — one taken to an area hospital by ambulance and another taken by helicopter to a burn center in Sacramento, Cal Fire Division Chief Jonathan Cox said.

Cox described an “aggressive stand” made by firefighters overnight in the Shiloh Ridge area near Windsor. Upwards of 4,000 crews from around California and various neighboring states are on the fire lines, he said.

A Red Flag Warning for high fire danger remains in effect through 11 a.m. Monday as wind gusts of up to 50 mph are still possible through the rest of the day.There will be an expected break Monday from the extremely windy weather over the weekend that fanned the flames, although more dry and windy weather is expected late Tuesday into Wednesday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Walbrun said the break in the wind would provide “a good window of opportunity with quieter weather this afternoon and into tonight.”

“Hopefully firefighters can take advantage of those calmer conditions,” Walbrun said.

Smoke from the Kincade Fire and other wildfires around the Bay Area over the weekend has spread across much of the region Monday morning. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Spare the Air alert for Monday and advises people to stay indoors if possible.

The fires are having an impact on local services, with many area schools closing down and Golden Gate Transit reporting the cancellation of a number of southbound buses Tuesday morning including Routes 72, 72X, 74 and 76.

Northbound afternoon buses are operating as scheduled but stopping at the Santa Rosa Transit Mall, while southbound trips on U.S. Highway 101 are starting at the Rohnert Park Expressway and Commerce Boulevard stops.

Morning service on Route 31 from San Rafael to the Larkspur Ferry is also canceled, but ferries are expected to contineu normal operations.

In Sonoma County, Sheriff Mark Essick said Monday morning that he expects to have more information later in the day on when residents who had to be evacuated because of the Kincade Fire can return to their homes.

About 185,000 people have been evacuated from east of U.S. Highway 101 all the way to the Pacific Ocean because of the fire, which started Wednesday night near Geyserville and has burned more than 66,000 acres and destroyed 96 structures as it approaches Windsor.

Essick at a Monday morning briefing clarified the difference between the terms “re-entry” and “re-population,” with re-entry meaning allowing residents to go back to areas that have burned and re-population meaning the return to unaffected areas.

The sheriff said there is no current plan to allow residents re-entry to burned areas since many remain as active fire scenes, but officials with the county and Cal Fire plan to meet later Monday to talk about when residents may return to unaffected areas.

Announcements on when residents can return to their homes will be made on Nixle and other social media, he said. People can sign up for alerts by texting their zip code to 888777.

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