California’s Kincade wildfire fury seen in harrowing video as firefighters drive into flames
This is a drive straight into hell.
A harrowing video emerged Tuesday showing what firefighters are dealing with as they battle the largest wildfire currently burning in California, one that's menacing the state's wine country and threatening to explode with the return of powerful winds.
The Kincade Fire, which began late Wednesday near Geyserville, Calif., had grown to 74,324 acres by Monday evening and was only 15 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. The blaze has so far destroyed 123 structures, 57 of which are residential homes. About 90,000 structures remain threatened by the fire, according to Cal Fire Division Chief Jonathan Cox.
"We’re playing both offense and defense right now on two different sides of the fire, and we’re going to have to flip-flop that tomorrow when that wind event comes through,” Cox said at a Monday night news conference.
STRENGTHENING WINDS INCREASE SIZE OF MENACING KINCADE FIRE
Video from San Francisco firefighters posted to Twitter early Tuesday showed the conditions firefighters are facing as they respond to the flames. The video, taken at 3 a.m. Monday, shows the crew heading straight into the fire down a dark, narrow road.
As the fire crew makes its way along the road against a burning hillside, they drive through clouds of smoke that make the yellow center lines hard to see as embers frequently strike their windshield.
"We appreciate their complete dedication to the task of protecting lives and property," San Francisco Firefighters Local 798 tweeted.
The fire crew eventually makes its way down the remote road as flames dance on either side of them.
Cal Fire said that additional evacuation warnings were in effect on the eastern side of Sonoma County and the west side of Lake County due to the blaze, ahead of another wind event expected to begin on Tuesday morning.
MANY HOUSEKEEPERS, GARDENERS WENT TO WORK DESPITE GETTY FIRE EVACUATION ORDER: REPORT
Winds are forecast reach 20 to 30 mph before peaking Tuesday night with gusts up to 50 mph, and Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. said its latest blackout will start early Tuesday and affect 605,000 customers – about 1.5 million people – in 29 Northern California counties.
The announcement came even before the last blackout had ended, which shut power to more than 2.5 million people. It wasn't clear if power, that for many went out Saturday, would be restored before the next round of outages.
"No rain in the forecast and we expect those winds to be extreme and fire danger to remain in place until at least the end of the week," Fox News Senior Meteorologist Janice Dean said on "Fox & Friends." "We have a weather pattern that is not budging. We've very strong winds across the Great Basin that are going to funnel through those valleys and canyons and unfortunately bring more Santa Ana wind conditions not only today but through the rest of the workweek."
In Southern California, fire crews battling the Getty Fire in the upscale communities in the hills above Los Angeles took advantage of a break in the winds on Monday. The fire roared up a steep hillside near the J. Paul Getty Museum in the Brentwood section. It destroyed at least eight homes and damaged at least six, forcing LeBron James and thousands of others to flee.
Much of the blaze was reduced to smoldering ruins and hot spots but hot, dry Santa Ana winds that could blow them to life and spread embers were predicted beginning Tuesday night. Red flag warnings of extreme fire danger were issued for much of Southern California into Thursday, with gusts up to 75 mph possible in some areas.
In California's wine country, firefighters worked Monday to reinforce fire lines in western Sonoma County while rushing to shore up the eastern side that could be the new focus as winds switched direction.
Bulldozers carved firebreaks, hand crews attacked hot spots with hoses and shovels, and aircraft painted hillsides with fire retardant.
Nearly 156,000 people have been ordered in California to evacuate because of wildfires, most of them because of the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County. Evacuation orders were downgraded to warnings for some 30,000 people in the west but new warnings were issued to people in the east, with Calistoga in Napa County and Middletown in Lake County — a community badly damaged by a 2015 wildfire.
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But in the town of Windsor, some residents have stayed behind. Dan Spain told KTVU on Monday he and his brother stuck around because their elderly mother did not want to go.
"Me and my brother stayed there and sprayed water," he told KTVU. "And I know they say that's it's a senseless thing to do, but that's where me and my brother grew up."
While no deaths have been attributed to the blaze, officials have said two firefighters were injured Sunday while battling the fire. Cox said Sunday one firefighter sustained serious burn injuries and was airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center. The other firefighter who was burned had minor injuries.
Fox News' Danielle Wallace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.