Wine Country Fires: A Timeline of Fire Dispatch Calls - NBC Bay Area
North Bay Wildfires

North Bay Wildfires

Wine Country Fires: A Timeline of Fire Dispatch Calls

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit dug through fire dispatch records in search of clues about what caused the fires that broke out in Sonoma and Napa counties on Sunday, Oct. 8. The recordings reveal numerous reports of downed electrical equipment starting at around 9:22 that night. Investigative reporter Liz Wagner reports on a story that first aired Oct. 11, 2017. (Published Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017)

    As fire crews continue to fight the flames from the ground and the air, Cal Fire is looking into what could have started the fires that killed 21 and forced tens of thousands from their homes. Cal Fire officials say their investigators have fanned out across the region and started to examine possible causes.

    Sonoma County and Cal Fire records indicate dispatchers sent crews to multiple downed power lines Sunday evening. The audio recordings also show crews were sent to multiple vegetation fires that quickly grew in size and scope starting at around 9:20 that night.

    One of the first calls happened at 9:22 p.m., indicating reports of a vegetation fire at 310 Buckingham Drive in Santa Rosa. Less than a minute later dispatches note an “electrical investigation” on Maverick Court near Mark Springs Road. At 9:24 p.m., dispatchers sent out alerts of a transformer explosion in the Larkfield neighborhood.

    Records show during the next two hours dispatchers in Sonoma County sent crews to at least 10 locations with blown transformers or downed power lines. They recorded at least 14 instances of falling trees, and in some cases, trees into power lines.

    PG&E says the 75 mph winds contributed to some trees, branches and debris impacting their electrical equipment. The company says it found instances of downed wires, broken poles and impacted infrastructure and that it reported all instances to Cal Fire and the California Public Utilities Commission. The PUC says it’s requiring PG&E to preserve evidence.

    “The utility is supposed to make sure that their lines are safe and their trees are safe and there is no contact or potential for that,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill, who has been critical of the way PG&E maintains its equipment and trims trees around power lines. “If this proves to be the case, we have a serious problem,” he said.

    Cal Fire doesn’t know for certain if PG&E’s electrical equipment played a role in the dozens of fires that sparked Sunday night, but the agency says its investigators are now fanned out across the region looking for causes, including possible links to power lines.

    By 10:15 on Sunday night, dispatchers got word the county was flooded with 911 calls. At 10:51, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office sent its first alert via Nixle, to warn residents of multiple fires. About 10 minutes later at 11:03 p.m., law enforcement sent out the first mandatory evacuation orders. 

    9:22 PM
    Vegetation fire at 310 Buckingham Dr.

    9:23 PM
    Electrical investigation at Mark West Springs Rd, 1047 Maverick Ct, Winding View Trail

    9:24 PM
    Electrical situation at Fulton Rd/Old Redwood Hwy: Possible transformer explosion

    9:24 PM
    Tree down at Knights Valley

    9:25 PM
    Tree down at Ida Clayton Road

    9:26 PM
    Structure on fire at 451 Mark West Station Road, Larkfield

    9:29 PM
    Structure fire investigation next to the Hilton Garden Inn

    9:30 PM
    Structure fire at 203 Orange St. in Santa Rosa

    9:32 PM
    Electrical issue at Mark West Station Rd: Wires down and transformer blown

    9:33 PM
    Structural fire at North St.

    9:34 PM
    Vegetation fire at Rincon Valley, Primrose Ave and Todd Rd

    9:41 PM
    Structural fire at Silverado Country Club

    9:42 PM
    Electrical issues at Mountain Ave: Tree down with wires down

    9:46 PM
    Vegetation fire at Highway 128 and Tubbs Ln in Calistoga

    9:49 PM
    Vegetation fire at Mayacama Club Drive

    9:51 PM
    Structural fire at 4474 Mountain Home Ranch Road

    9:52 PM
    Multiple trees down at Hwy 128

    9:59 PM
    Electrical issue: Power lines down at 3139 Adobe Road in Petaluma

    10:00 PM
    Hwy 128 shut down due to trees down

    10:01 PM
    Vegetation fire at Mayama Ln off Chalk Hill

    10:02 PM
    Structural fire at 2099 Stonefield Ln

    10:06 PM
    Structural fire at 3300 Juniper

    10:06 PM
    Structural fire at Oasis Drive

    10:07 PM
    Electrical issues: Young Lane power lines down

    10:09 PM
    Strucural fire at 91 Napa Road

    10:10 PM
    Tree down 1300 block Hwy 128

    10:10 PM
    Vegetation fire at Cross Creek Rd at Bridlewood Ct

    10:12 PM
    Tree down at Los Guilicos Ave and Maple Ave in Kenwood

    10:13 PM
    Tree onto gas line Ross Station Road at Highway 116

    10:14 PM
    Tree on fire 20 feet from structure at 541 Aslan Lair Court in Santa Rosa; Brush Creek Road blocks 2851

    10:15 PM
    Dispatchers get word the county is flooded with 911 calls. 

    10:16 PM
    Tree on fire, 361 Incantare Court

    10:19 PM
    Vegetation fire at southbound 101, north of Shiloh

    10:20 PM
    Vegetation fire at Hembree Ln and Victory Ln

    10:21 PM
    Structural fire at Alsan Lair Court tree on fire turned into structure fire

    10:23 PM
    Electrical issue at Shiloh off-ramp and 101; wires down on northbound side

    10:24 PM
    Tree into gas line at Traditional Medicinals in Sebastapol

    10:31 PM
    Electrical issue: Wires down at Embry and Victory

    10:34 PM
    Electrical issue: Power lines down 4858 Montecito (Santa Rosa)

    10:34 PM
    Electrical issue: Power lines possibly down and arcing at Guerneville Rd and Marlow Rd

    10:34 PM
    Vegetation fire at Beltane Ranch in Glen Ellen

    10:36 PM
    Structure fire at 16250 Norrbom Rd

    10:37 PM
    Structural fire at Monroe Elementary School

    10:38 PM
    Commercial fire alarm at 10309 Chalk Hill Rd

    10:39 PM
    Vegetation fire in area of 7728 Hwy 12 and Pythian Rd

    10:40 PM
    Blown transformer at Oak Leaf Dr and Old Oak Ln, Santa Rosa

    10:40 PM
    Vegetation fire at Pearson Ave & Hyde Rd

    10:44 PM
    Brush on fire at Healdsburg High School

    10:48 PM
    Five to 10 acre fire with dangerous rate of spread; Structures threatened at Nelligan Rd and Nuns Canyon Rd in Glen Ellen

    10:50 PM
    Small spot fire at Healdsburg High School extinguished

    10:50 PM
    Multiple fires/structure fire at Beltane Ranch at Hwy. 12

    10:51 PM
    Structure fire upgraded to a second alarm; 50 W. 6th St in Santa Rosa

    10:51 PM
    The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office sent its first alert via Nixle, to warn residents of multiple fires.  

    10:54 PM
    Vegetation fire with someone trapped in a house; 1210 Nuns Canyon.

    10:55 PM
    Santa Rosa vegetation fire 175 Willow

    10:56 PM
    Cars stopped by fallen trees on 2411 Soda Canyon Rd and 2600 Atlas Peak Rd

    11:03 PM
    Law enforcement sends out the first mandatory evacuation orders

    11:04 PM
    Vegetation fire at 8555 Hwy 12

    11:07 PM
    Structure fire with vegetation fire 43 Jane Court

    11:08 PM
    Santa Rosa vegetation fire W. 3rd at Dutton Ave