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Wine Country Wildfires: Day 4, and little progress on containment; winds expected to increase, no rain in sight

Thursday, October 12, 2017

 

SAN FRANCISCO – Strictly speaking not a sailing story, but as with the devastating hurricanes over the past two months in Texas, the Caribbean and the Gulf Coast, many sailors live in or have country homes in the counties just north of San Francisco to say nothing of having friends and family all over the world who are concerned. 

 

All connected with Sailing Illustrated are safe and sound, though our regular "Tuesdays with TFE" Coordinating Producer, Julia Wedekind, does not know the status of her country home in Calistoga which, God forbid, may have gone up in flames overnight. Regardless, thanks for your emails and texts of concern. 

 

This (Thursday) morning the smell of smoke hangs heavy in the cool pre-dawn air in SF, even though the City is 50 miles from the nearest fire. Local text alert just received: "SF Air Quality is Red (unhealthy). Close windows/limit outdoor activities/keep pets indoors." 

 

CalFire is still reporting only minimal containment of these NorCal fires, percentages in the single digits. The wind increased overnight, and entire towns are now threatened including Napa and Calistoga; the latter has been entirely evacuated. We have heard about dozens of friends who have been impacted from themselves or family having to prepare to evacuate, or having to flea the heavy smoke in the North Bay, or having lost their homes and more to fire.

 

There are hundreds of people still unaccounted for, hopefully due to inability to get through to family or friends by phone or text, but there is growing fear that many of those missing are dead as the DT continues to rise.

 

We've been texting with and getting first hand reports from  Mark Matthews, whom I've known since the San Diego AC days in the 80s and 90s and is now a senior reporter with the Bay Area's NBC station Channel 11. Mark is doing regular live shots for his station from the fire front in Napa and Sonoma Counties. Maybe I am biased by knowing him, but Mark's reporting has been second to none. The others remind me of the cut-and-paste sailing media, ripping and reading whatever press releases come their way with no vetting of the facts and little first-hand reporting of what's actually happening.

 

San Francisco YC has jumped in to help their employees, a number of whom have been seriously impacted by the fires including a manager whose house burned to the ground, with a GoFundMe fundraising campaign here

 

This morning you can pretty well disregard most of the other print coverage as it is hours out of date. The latest and best article I have seen, courtesy of the LA Times, is here

 

More evacuations overnight, including, among others, parts of Napa, Sonoma and all of Calistoga.

 

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