This is the tail end of the fire season in Washington state. Only two air tankers protect the entire state and luckily there was only fire this entire year. For those aerial firefighters this was a boring time to be stuck in WA. But, back in California, it’s another story, especially in the area of Santa Rosa. This was a historic fire season, grim and tragic. 17 fires erupted in the Napa-Sonoma region (this includes Santa Rosa) between midnight and 2 a.m. Monday.
By Friday, at least 31 people had been killed, more than 100 had been treated for fire-related injuries, and more than 3,500 homes and businesses had been destroyed.
How could so many fires start and spread so fast and do so much destruction? The worst of the fires in Northern California were less than 4-5 hours apart by car and there were 21 of them all erupting at about the same general time. Coincidence, perhaps? But, it’s a stretch to think 100% of the them were purely accidental?
So how did they start? That is the question that Cal Fire arson investigators will be trying to solve and right now they are looking for clues in many places.
We know the fires were pushed along by high winds and fueled by a lot of combustible material on the ground. We know that caused fires to spread quickly, moving faster than firefighting units could keep up with, mostly because masses of burning embers sometimes rained down a mile and half from the fireline. In the Napa-Sonoma region, what we don’t know is how did it happen and exactly where did it start?
Was it a campfire that got out of control, was it a downed powerline due to wind or something else? But, 17 fires in one concentrated area? That’s weird. Right now, nobody knows the original cause or if they do, they’re not talking. But, the answers are likely to be discovered in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.