Two thousand people in California’s Napa Valley wine growing area have been ordered to evacuate their homes, and another 3,000 have been told to prepare to, amid rapidly-spreading wildfires which have destroyed at least one winery.
Chateau Boswell, a 40-year-old family-run winery near St Helena, was on fire on Sunday night, as firefighters desperately tried to put out the blaze.
Napa County Office of Emergency Services said 64 wineries sit within the evacuation or evacuation warning areas, along with rural estates and remote, unincorporated communities.
High winds, gusting at 55mph, were hampering attempts to put out the Glass Fire, which broke out at 3:50am on Sunday and has so far burned 2,500 acres near St. Helena.
St. Helena, around 15 miles north of Napa, has been the site of prized wineries since the 1860s. The area is home to Beringer, one of California’s oldest continuously operating wineries, founded by Jacob Beringer and his brother Frederick in 1875. Some wines produced in the region sell for more than $460 a bottle.
The Glass Mountain Inn is engulfed by flames after a blaze broke out in St Helena, California, on Sunday, destroying a number of homes
Chateau Boswell, a 40-year-old family-run winery near St Helena was on fire on Sunday night
Chateau Boswell was the first winery to be certified Napa Green, in recognition of their environmental protection efforts
The steeple at Chateau Boswell Winery burns as the Glass Fire moves through the area, destroying more than 2,500 acres
A plane is seen dumping fire retardant chemicals on the hillsides above the vineyards of Napa Valley
Fire officials look on as the Glass Fire burns closed to Viader Vineyards and Winery in Deer Park, Napa County, on Sunday
Napa Valley has been famed for its vineyards since the 1860s and produces wines that can sell for more than $460 a bottle
Vines from the Viader Vineyards were engulfed in smoke on Sunday afternoon as the Glass Fire blazed out of control
The area is also flanked by the LNU Lightning Complex, which was sparked on August 17 and has destroyed 363,000 acres. It is now 98 per cent contained – unlike the Glass Fire, which is entirely uncontained.
County emergency management officials say 743 homes and 1,857 people are within the Glass Fire evacuation zone, the Press Democrat reported.
A further 1,370 homes and 3,425 people are in the larger evacuation warning zone.
Some were evacuated from their homes before dawn, and evacuations continued throughout the day.
Among those evacuated were 50 patients at Adventist Health St. Helena hospital in Deer Park.
A 48-hour red flag warning, that started at 9pm on Saturday and was expected to last until 9pm on Monday, was the basis for the hospital evacuation and extensive residential evacuations.
Fourteen sheriffs deputies from Napa County went door-to-door telling people to evacuate, using high-low sirens to alert residents.
Planes dropped tonnes of red fire retardant chemicals on the Davis Estates winery near Calistoga
The hillsides above the Davis Estates vineyard were ablaze on Sunday, and firefighters were working to protect the site
A Cal Fire fire engine drives into the Louis Stralla Water Treatment Plant during the Glass Fire
The moon rises behind burning trees along the famous Silverado Trail road, home to dozens of celebrated wineries
A palm tree on fire as the Glass Fire rages along the famous Silverado Trail road in the town of Deer Park
Firefighters protect a residence from the encroaching Glass Fire at a vineyard in Deer Park
‘We are very concerned tonight about red flag conditions,’ said Janet Upton, spokeswoman for the Napa County Office of Emergency Services.
She said that many of the communities were isolated and reached via narrow, winding mountain roads, which made the decision to evacuate more pressing.
Upton said the dry conditions and high winds were worrying firefighters.
‘There’s been discussion of relative humidity in elevations in the fire area as low as 0 per cent — and kiln-dried wood is at 9 per cent,’ Upton said.
‘That factor alone, without the winds, would drive dangerous fire behavior.’
The spectacular 100-year-old Davis Estate winery, with its beautiful wooden tasting room, was considered under threat.
So too was Reverie, founded 25 years ago on a lush Napa hillside.
Photos posted on social media showed planes flying above the Davis Estate, dropping fire retardant chemicals to try and protect the property.
Cal Fire used a DC10 plane, which was capable of dropping almost 10,000 gallons of retardant in eight seconds on each pass.
Chateau Boswell was beyond help. The winery was one of a handful of privately-owned family wineries amidst the 554 wineries in the Napa Valley.
On Sunday the winery was ablaze, with firefighters trying to save what they could of the ravaged buildings and vines.
Chateau Boswell, a winery founded 40 years ago, was engulfed by flames on Sunday afternoon
The lovingly-tended grapes, producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc wines, went up in smoke on Sunday
Trees surrounding the famous Silverado Trail went up in flames on Sunday as the Glass Fire raged