Environment & Science

Wildfire in Napa-Solano counties prompts evacuations

Smoke from the fire seen in Sacramento.
Smoke from the fire seen in Sacramento.
NWS Sacramento/Twitter

A fast-moving wildfire in Napa and Solano counties grew to more than 9 square miles Thursday, scorching drought-parched countryside near Lake Berryessa and sending hikers, homeowners and wildlife fleeing to safety.

The fire was 5 percent contained and threatening some 200 structures. The communities of Quail Ridge and Golden Bear were under evacuation orders. Canyon Creek and Lake Solano campgrounds and Canyon Area hikers have also been evacuated.

The fire erupted Wednesday and was initially reported as being caused by a vehicle accident, but authorities now say the cause remains under investigation.

More than 520 firefighters are battling the flames in rugged, steep, brush-covered terrain that has been difficult to access. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported the fire is traveling quickly.

"Winds are erratic," the agency reported. "Additional resources have been ordered."

Lake Berryessa is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in California and 45 minutes east of California's famed Napa Valley wine country.

Cal Fire Capt. Amy Head said no wineries are threatened.

"It's pretty far away from the Napa Valley," she said. "(People) are fine to go into the Napa Valley and do tastings."

She said the evacuation center does not have a phone line but only between two and six people have been there at a given time. Most people who have been evacuated have gone to family, she said.

Television cameras captured cattle, deer and horses running for safety as the flames inched closer. Evacuee Leasa Roozen said her husband had tried to convince her that the fire wasn't as close as it seemed but she wasn't taking any chances.

"I don't care, it's close enough," she told KGO-TV. "I want to get out of here."

The Red Cross opened an evacuation center at the Winters Community Center. An animal evacuation center was also opened nearby.

Highway 128 was closed at Wragg Canyon.

Marcia Ritz, owner of the Spanish Flat Country and Deli in Napa, said she was forced to turn around from a shopping trip when the flames broke out. A normally 45-minute commute took more than three hours.

"There were huge amounts of smoke," said Ritz, whose store was not in the evacuation zone.

She worried about the impact the fire would have on nearby resorts.

"We have the resorts up here and in the summertime we depend on them," Ritz said.

This story has been updated.