California wildfires threaten towns, wineries ahead of dangerous weekend

By Latif Adrees

CALISTOGA, Calif. (Reuters)-On Friday the fires burning in the Napa Valley wine area were guarded on fire crews sending water-dropping helicopters while predictions called this weekend for the recovery of hazardous hit winds.

The Glas Fire broke out last Sunday in the vicinity of Calistoga resort, about 110 miles (120 km) north of San Francisco, burning 248 homes or other buildings.

The stately Boswell Winery Chateau north of Napa and a farmhouse at the famed Amorosa winery Castello were amongst the wines that escaped the castle-like main structure.

Thick smoke was spilled over deserted villages in the Napa Valley which would normally be busy with cereal guests.

Kari Corte, who's in a Ghost Block Estate box outside of Oakville said "Everybody's hunkered down, it's very, very quiet.

The fire was raging less than three miles north, at her home in Zinfandel.

"I prep my sacks and I'm ready for it," said Corte, recalled that during another poor wine year in 2017, she was forced to leave Atlas Peak area.

Any wineries were watching over houses and crops with water bulldozers and tankers in the hope of being a desperate last line of defense when the fire rushed out from the foothills.

On Wednesday the Newton Vineyard cellar was burning, according to a photographer in Reuters, who witnessed the rivulets of red wine streaming through his principal access route, mixed with smoke.

The local winegrowers worry that smoke has ruined most of the vintage this year.

The Ford's Rain

According to the Californian Department of Forest and Fire Safety or Cal Fire, nearly 52,000 people have been under evacuation orders at least over the weekend.

During the two days a red alert has been given by the National Weather Service for strong winds.

Rainstorms are expected at the end of next week for the region and firefighters expect to deter the fire from returning to residential areas before the shower comes.

Cal Fire operations manager Mark Brunton said Thursday, "This is going to be a major firefight for us in the next 36 hours.

Services have been expanded because of the great number of state-wide fires, he added.

About 200 miles northward, in the foothills of the Cascade mountain range, workers made considerable strides toward the Zogg Burn.

From Friday afternoon on, containment hit 46%, up 26% the day before.

In the Zogg blast, four people were murdered and about 150 buildings near the town of Redding were also burned.

In the Glass Fire no victims were identified.

Overall, at least 30 people have been killed in destructive wildfires all over the United States since mid-August.

The West has been fueled by intense weather, wind and drizzle storms which are defined by scientists by climate change.

Gavin Newsom has also accused California governor of inadequate control of forests for decades.

Since January, fires in California have squattered almost 6,100 square miles of acres (15, 800 square km), more than three times Delaware earth mass and far above any acreage reported last year.

The other article was published by Dan Whitcomb and Sandra Maler and Rosalba O'Brien in Los Angeles and by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico.