Bay City News

Kincade Fire: Residents Still Evacuated Not Likely to Return Tuesday

People still evacuated from their homes because of the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County are not likely to be able to return home Tuesday as firefighters battle the blaze amid dry and windy conditions in the next 24 hours, authorities said at a morning briefing.

On Monday, residents who had evacuated 14 communities in the western part of the county were allowed to return, a phrase the sheriff's office is calling "repopulating," after their evacuation orders were downgraded to evacuation warnings.

Sheriff Mark Essick said Tuesday is likely "not a good day for repopulation" given conditions that have prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag Warning for winds that could gust as high as 65 mph in mountainous areas of the North Bay.

The Red Flag Warning is in effect through 11 a.m. Wednesday.

As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, the fire had burned 75,415 acres, the equivalent of nearly 118 square miles, and is 15 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

The fire grew only slightly overnight Monday into Tuesday, mostly on the eastern flank toward Lake County, but windier weather Tuesday is going

to test the western fire lines toward more populated areas, Cal Fire Division Chief Jonathan Cox said.

"We ask for everyone's patience," Cox said. "We need to get through the wind that is anticipated tonight."

At least 124 structures have been destroyed in the fire, 23 are damaged and more than 90,000 remain threatened, according to Cal Fire.

Along with fires and evacuations, the windy weather has prompted yet another PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff affecting more than 270,000 customers -- about 800,000 people -- in the Bay Area.

After Tuesday night, there could be a reprieve from the windy weather though, National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Walbrun said.

"We're hopeful the winds will ease off after midnight," he said, adding that "things look more favorable for the next five to seven days."

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