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Firefighters face uphill battle as wind event nears

The Kincade Fire that began late Wednesday evening in an area northeast of Geyserville has since scorched nearly 24,000 acres and destroyed 49 structures. Of those, 21 were homes.

Evacuations remain in place for approximately 2,000 Geyserville residents.

The latest details were provided by fire officials Friday evening, but with the update came a somber warning.

Containment is still at 5 percent, as it has been for much of Friday. The
reality is that even as winds died down, burned acreage grew and containment did not. With the National Weather Service predicting the season’s largest offshore wind event this weekend, the next 24 hours are crucial for fire crews hoping to get a handle on the inferno.

The Kincade Fire began northeast of Geyserville Wednesday, October 23, 2019. By Friday, the burn had grown to nearly 22,000 acres and was only 5 percent contained. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency Friday, October 25, 2019 for Sonoma County, and for Los Angeles County, where the Tick Fire is also burning.

The lack of forward progress is not for lack of trying. Cal Fire reports more
than 1,300 fire personnel have been assigned to the Kincade Fire. They’ve
pulled in help from 141 engines, 23 dozers, 17 water tenders and 12 helicopters. With all that power, they can make up ground Friday night while winds are calm, but the weather coming in poses serious challenges.

Short of having the fire 100 percent contained with all hot spots managed by 10 p.m. Saturday night, flare-ups are bound to occur.

PG&E may again be on the hook for the fire, as it was discovered the
energy company filed a report with the California Public Utilities Commission about damaged equipment in the same location Cal Fire says the spark originated, at Kincade and Burned Mountain roads. The irony isn’t lost.

Although not expertly evaluated, it’s worth noting that 92 small earthquakes occurred within close proximity to The Geysers in the past seven days, with another nine nearby, according to the U.S. Geographical Survey. Some were very small tremors, while some were near the magnitude 2.5 peak.

Ninety-two small earthquakes occurred near The Geysers, Calif area between October 18 and October 25, 2019. The Kincade Fire broke out in the same area October 23, 2019.

What impact a swarm of small earthquakes could have on transmission towers and power relays in unknown.

As a matter of precaution, and presumably consideration of liability,
PG&E has announced another Public Safety Power Shutoff to more than 800,000 customers, impacting nearly 2 million people from late Saturday night through Monday. Current information for the power shutoff can be found here.

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