Summary of October 17, 2017, 1 PM Press Conference
This afternoon, CAL FIRE, the Santa Rosa Police Department, the Santa Rosa Fire Department, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol provided updates related to the fires in Sonoma County.
● Confidence is increasing daily in the progress being made on fighting all the fires.
● The Pocket Fire is being held on the eastern and southern edges, and efforts continue to focus on containing the northern edge of the fire. CalFire is using backfire operations to avoid firefighting injuries in the steep canyons.
● Firefighters are taking an aggressive stance on the Tubbs Fire, using hand crews to fight the fire down steep slopes on the upper end of the fire. The lower portion of the Tubbs Fire is holding.
● The Nuns and Oakmont Branch fires merged. The southern area of the fire is contained. Firefighters are holding the northwest line using air attacks and backfires. The hope is that fires will burn back toward the burned area. There is still concern about erratic winds.
● Investigators are working diligently to find the cause of the fires.
Repopulation of Evacuated Areas
● Everyone is eager to get back home, but please be patient as you are waiting to enter areas that have been opened. Checkpoints have been established to ensure your safety and to prevent looting and theft. Please thank the law enforcement officer who assists you – many of them have come from distance communities to assist with repopulation.
● As of 1:00 p.m. today, the evacuation has been lifted for: the Oakmont neighborhood to include all streets south of Highway 12, east of Calistoga Road to Pythian Road. All northbound roads off Highway 12, including Highway 12 eastbound at Pythian Road, will still be closed under mandatory evacuations orders. To prevent theft and looting, identifications are needed for re-entry. Student IDs are not valid identification. People without valid identification should go to the LAC for assistance.
● Additionally, the evacuation has been lifted for the medical complex located at 3536 and 3540 Mendocino Avenue. All areas within the mandatory evacuation zone around the complex will remain in place. The only access to the complex will be via Steele Lane north to Mendocino Avenue.
● Repopulation will continue as the threat is mitigated and areas are safe for people to return to homes. This could take days or weeks for homes located in burned areas.
● People eager to learn about re-entry into evacuated areas should sign up for Nixle and SoCo Alerts.
● The City of Santa Rosa lifted boil water notices for all its customers, including Fountaingrove and Oakmont areas.
● Sutter Hospital opened today. Two buildings have opened on the Kaiser Hospital campus: Medical Office Buildings 1 and 2, with pharmacy services available. The hospital itself is not open.
● Search and rescue operations continue, with about one half of the search and rescue teams comprised of National Guard and one-half comprised of public safety officials.
● Looting and theft in the affected areas have been relatively low, with the Sonoma County Sheriff making eight arrests and the city of Santa Rosa Police making 18 arrests.
Fatalities and Missing People
● There have been 22 fatalities in Sonoma County related to the fires.
● 1,969 people have been reported missing. A total of 43 individuals that have been reported missing remain unaccounted for.
● Law enforcement’s goal is to make sure people return home safely. Do not drive distracted. If you need to use your cell phone to contact a loved one, please pull over.
● There are many PG&E and utility workers on the road, along with firefighters. Distracted drivers can endanger the lives of workers who are assisting the community.
Local Assistance Center (LAC)
● The LAC is a one-stop local assistance center that will be able to help residents with a wide range of services when the immediate fire threat has passed. This center will help with services like insurance claims, short-term lodging, clothing, animal services, and clean-up information.
● The LAC is open from 9 am to 7 pm daily, with the last entry at 6 pm so people have time to access all services available.
● All individuals are welcome at the LAC regardless of documented immigration status.
● Nearly 1,000 households were served at the LAC over the weekend, with an additional 236 people served this morning.
State and Federal Assistance for Individuals
● Napa and Sonoma county residents impacted by the fires can apply for federal Individual Disaster Assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362.
· Roads are being reopened when safe, and when the reopening won’t interfere with firefighting operations. Please check roadconditions.sonoma-county.org for current closures.
How to Help:
● There has been an outpouring of support from the community. However, shelter workers and emergency responders don’t have the resources to process donations of any kind. For this reason, donations of non-perishable food are being accepted at the Redwood Empire Food Bank.
● Firefighters are being well-fed, and don’t need donations of food or water. However, notes, signs and words of appreciation are gratefully welcomed.
● Sonoma County Emergency Operation Center Hotline: (707) 565-3856
● Santa Rosa Public Information Line: (707) 543-4511