Wine Country Fires Spreading; Smoke Enveloping Bay Area
By Robert Haugh
The tragic fires in the North Bay Area have destroyed countless homes and lives. Over 170,000 acres have been pile driven by the infernos. As of this writing, 23 people have died with approximately 600 missing. Over 3,500 homes and businesses have burned down. Winds have the smoke billowing hundreds of miles away. Most of our readers have noticed the hazy skies and smoky smells lingering in the air in Silicon Valley.
Many schools here and as far away as the Modesto area have cancelled outdoor recesses and athletic contests. Advisories have been issued in many areas urging people to take caution with the poor air quality. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory on Oct. 9. People are being advised to:
• Limit outdoor activities to avoid unnecessary exposure to smoke;
• Set air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside; and
• Reduce exposure to smoky air by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed, if possible.
I personally have close ties to the Napa Wine country and cannot emphasize how much our northerly neighbors need prayers and assistance. Many literally were awoken in early morning hours with little time to evacuate. Houses are crumbling to the ground, businesses are being decimated and thousands of people have been stranded along with their pets. All with zero warning. The end is not nigh – most of the fires are less than 10 percent contained.
Every Labor Day weekend, I spend several days in Calistoga for the Louie Vermeil Classic, one of the largest open wheel racing events on the west coast. Sadly, the entire town of Calistoga (population 5,000) is under evacuation orders. Petaluma Speedway, located at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds cancelled a race event this Saturday because the fairgrounds now serves as an evacuation center.
How to Help
I’m happy to hear that the City of Santa Clara sent one fire engine with a crew of four from Fire Station 7 to respond to the Napa fires. They are among the 8,000 men and women attempting to extinguish the out-of-control fires.
Here are ways you can help:
- Volunteer with the Red Cross. For Sonoma County, you may call 707-573-3399 for information.
- Donate to the Red Cross, which helps distribute disaster relief aid. In addition to online donations, you can also call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
- Donate to The United Way via their Wine Country page.
There are multiple crowd-funding campaigns including a city of Santa Rosa YouCaring page for Tubbs Fire victims and the #BayAreaUnite YouCaring page created by Bay Area sports teams.