The Glass and Zogg fires in California have killed four people and torn through more than 100,000 acres in a matter of days, and they threaten to forever alter the lives of those still in their path.
Already this fire season has produced five of the six largest wildfires in California’s history. With unseasonably hot weather and no rain forecast for much of the state this week, authorities say there could be more fire still ahead to fight. And the two major fires currently ablaze have run rampant since they were ignited early Sunday.
The Zogg Fire in Shasta and Tehama counties has grown to scorch 55,303 acres and is 26% contained, while the Glass Fire in Sonoma and Napa counties covers 51,266 acres and is still less than 2% contained.
When Anna and David Matherly fled the Glass Fire and their dream home in the Skyhawk neighborhood, they thought they would never see it again.
“When we drove out and looked back, I told my son, Skyhawk is gone. They cannot stop this fire,” David told CNN affiliate KGO.
But on Tuesday they made the eight-mile hike to learn the fate of their home. Much to their relief, it was still standing, with two bottles of sparkling wine they left waiting in their refrigerator, KGO reported.
But elsewhere families are feeling intense loss from the blazes. Combined, the Zogg and Glass fires have already taken down at least 350 structures and tore through vineyards.
One man who was taken to the hospital with significant burns on the day the fire started has become the fourth person to die in the Zogg Fire.
Weather conditions fuel the fires
The blazes taht began Sunday have been fueled by little rain, high temperatures and strong winds.
“The fire continues to burn in grass, oak woodland, chaparral, and mixed timber,” a Cal Fire Incident update said Wednesday. “Hot and dry conditions are forecasted again for the evening with a northwest wind developing across the area.”
And weather conditions are poised to fan the flames.
The National Weather Service has warned that the hot weather will continue, issuing a heat advisory Tuesday for the region, with temperatures possibly reaching 105 degrees in the hottest locations. Nearly 30 million people in the state are under those heat advisories.
Red flag warnings were also issued in the North Bay area, where the Glass and Zogg fires exploded in a matter of hours, starting Wednesday night due to low humidity and breezy conditions anticipated overnight, NWS Bay Area said on Twitter Wednesday.
Wind will likely also push smoke from numerous fires to cover Napa and portions of the Bay area through at least Friday, the weather service said.
Fire crews overwhelmed by the blaze
Those on the front lines have been exhausted by a long season and by the fires themselves.
“Most of (the firefighters) been going since the middle of July, without rest from fire to fire to fire here in the northern part of the state,” said Cal Fire Incident Commander Billy See.
And many have spent long hours working to get the Zogg and Glass fires under control.
The fast-moving blaze forced two firefighters to deploy shelters Sunday night as they were overtaken by intense conditions fueled by high winds, Cal Fire said in a release. The shelters are aluminized cloth tents that reflect radiant heat and offer breathable air.
The firefighters were uninjured but several transport vehicles were damaged.
Over 1,300 personnel are battling the blaze, and fire crews will continue working to establish containment lines, according to Cal Fire. But even when they do, they may not be able to breathe too easily, authorities said.
“We still have months to go for fire season,” said Cal Fire Unit Chief Shana Jones. “And that means that this could happen again. I pray to God it does not, but we still have a lot of fire season to go.”