The flames did not spare the famous Californian vineyards of the Napa Valley in northwestern California, United States. Thus, Boswell Castle, located in Saint Helena, is nothing more than ashes. Owned by the luxury group LVMH, the Newton Vineyard estate was also affected. “As the Glass Fire continues to spread, it is with sadness that we inform you that the Newton Estate estate and vines have been significantly affected,” the estate said on its Instagram account, noting that all the employees had been taken to safety in time. The Glass Fire has already consumed nearly 4,500 acres of vegetation and homes in Napa County.
Further north, in a wooded and steep area of Shasta County, the “Zogg Fire”, which also broke out on Sunday, September 27, killed three people and continued to spread on Monday evening. Some 34,000 people had been ordered to evacuate on Monday and 14,000 more were to be ready. In the middle of the night, 4,500 residents of a residential area for the elderly in wine-growing Sonoma County, next to Napa County and threatened by another fire called “Shady Fire”, had to board municipal buses in order to be transported to safety.
“The two cars are ready”
Saint Helena resident Susan Fielder had tears in her eyes as she drove to a Napa hideaway, leaving her home behind with only a small bag and a picture of her grandparents. “This morning, I was like, ‘what are you going to do if you lose everything?’ », She confides to Agence France-Presse. She was able to find her house, intact but covered with a layer of ash, at midday.
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Many inhabitants of the area, traumatized by the fires that have already ravaged the region in recent years, have also left in disaster in the dark. “You could see the flames rising in the sky all night long,” said CeeBee Thompson, a resident of Calistoga, who did not sleep. Several parts of the city have been evacuated and CeeBee Thompson is just waiting for the signal to leave. “The two cars are ready, the only thing left to load are the cats,” she told Agence France-Presse.
The counties of Napa and Sonoma had already been struck by devastating fires in 2017, killing a total of 44 people and destroying several thousand buildings. The weather services had hoisted the “red flag” for the risk of fire on this part of California because of a heat wave and dry winds creating the ideal conditions for the start of fires. “These winds will begin to weaken in the afternoon and stabilize, which should help us in our efforts,” said Governor Gavin Newsom, calling on the population to be cautious and to strictly follow the instructions for relief.
1.5 million hectares destroyed
In northeastern California, Butte County, already badly affected by multiple fires since mid-August, was forced to implement new evacuations on Sunday evening near the small town of Paradise. The area was ravaged by one of the deadliest fires in state history, Camp Fire, which killed 86 people in November 2018.
More than 8,100 fires have occurred since the start of the season, covering 1.5 million hectares in total, California firefighters said. According to scientific consensus, the exceptional scale of these fires is linked to climate change, which exacerbates chronic drought and causes extreme weather conditions. In Napa Valley, Susan Fielder has no intention of unpacking her emergency bag before November and the return of the rains. “I’ll stay until someone knocks on my door and tells me I have to go,” she said.