Hospitals scramble to evacuate hundreds of patients in Wine Country fire

Hospitals scramble to evacuate hundreds of patients in Wine Country fire

October is historically one of the most dangerous months of the year when it comes to wildfires fanned by strong winds in Southern California

In this video the gas lines that had gone to the homes, burn like small torches, even though the homes are gone.

Firefighters battling 15 wildfires that have killed at least 11 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings in California’s wine country on welcomed a drop in winds and an expected layer of cool, moist fog rolling in on Tuesday.

Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director for Cal Fire, said winds have slowed to single-digit speeds, down from the 50 to 60 mph gusts reported Monday.

“That’s given us a good opportunity to make progress on these fires,” Berlant said. “We’re hoping to continue to see less wind and cooler temperatures. That combination is a welcome sight compared to what we dealt with just 24 hours ago.”

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As of mid-day, here’s a look what various hospitals are doing:

Hospitals scramble to evacuate hundreds of patients in Wine Country fire

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital

Evacuated its more than 80 patients; the hospital reported on social media that “all patients and staff are safe.”

A Sutter Health rep said that by 9 a.m. Regional Hospital had finished evacuating the last of its patients and that the hospital was sending staff home.

A note on the center’s website said all “patients are safe and have been transferred to other area hospitals. Due to road closures, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital is inaccessible at this time and all surgeries, scheduled through Tuesday, October 10 have been cancelled.”

Crews are fighting 17 wildfires that destroyed at least 1,500 homes and commercial buildings across several Northern California counties and sent more than 20,000 people fleeing for safety.

Eleven people from California’s wine country have been reported dead as of Tuesday morning, and officials warned that the death toll is likely to rise.

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Hospitals scramble to evacuate hundreds of patients in Wine Country fire

The fires were fanned by high temperatures and dry conditions, displacing some 20,000 residents, robbing others of power and forcing schools and at least two hospitals in Sonoma County to close.

Seven of the deaths were in Sonoma County, where the sheriff’s office said Tuesday that they had received about 150 missing-persons reports. “We are confident that many of these people will be found safe and reunited with loved ones, but unfortunately we are preparing for further fatalities,” sheriff’s officials said.

Hospitals scramble to evacuate hundreds of patients in Wine Country fire

Two deaths were reported in the Atlas Fire in Napa County. One person was killed during a smaller but fast-moving fire in Mendocino County to the north, said Jonathan Cox, a battalion chief and spokesman for Cal Fire. An 11th death was reported in Yuba County near the Sacramento area, well outside of wine country, Cal Fire said.

Hospitals scramble to evacuate hundreds of patients in Wine Country fire

“This is really serious. It’s moving fast,” Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said Monday at a news conference in which he declared an emergency in seven counties. “The heat, the lack of humidity and the winds are all driving a very dangerous situation and making it worse. It’s not under control by any means. But we’re on it in the best way we know how.”

At one point, more than 114,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers in the North Bay lost power. Hardest hit was Santa Rosa, with more than 23,460 customers blacked out, and St. Helena, with more than 7,660 losing electricity service. The utility, which mobilized workers from outside the Bay Area to respond to the emergency, managed to restore electricity service to about 12,000 of those customers by midday.

The current wildfires had burned more than 73,000 acres in Northern California by Monday evening, nearly all of those in Sonoma and Napa counties, the heartland of the state’s renowned wine industry.

The situation in Santa Rosa, the largest city in Sonoma County, appeared dire. The Tubbs Fire, as the biggest blaze in Sonoma is known, has charred 27,000 acres in the county. The fire sped southwest from Calistoga in Napa Valley, jumped Highway 101 and entered Santa Rosa. Cal Fire officials said the cause is under investigation.

A resident, Ron Dodds, told TV station KTVU that “people are running red lights, there is chaos ensuing.”

Hospitals scramble to evacuate hundreds of patients in Wine Country fire

“It’s a scary time,” Dodds said. “It looks like Armageddon.”

A number of historic structures and popular destinations, including Santa Rosa’s luxury Fountaingrove Inn and the Signorello Estates winery in Napa, were destroyed.

•Portable classrooms, the library and the main office at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa was destroyed. The Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa was damaged.

• Sonoma County officials said they have received reports of looting, and Santa Rosa police issued a mandatory curfew that will be in effect from 6:45 p.m. Monday until sunrise.

Kaiser Permanente evacuated about 130 patients from the Santa Rosa Medical Center by ambulance and private bus early Monday morning, according to Jenny Mack, the health system’s public relations director for Northern California. The patients were taken to Kaiser Permanente in San Rafael, in Marin County, and to other hospitals and evacuation sites.

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital also evacuated all of its patients. By Monday afternoon, the hospital was inaccessible because of road closures.

Will Powers, a Cal Fire representative, said the California Highway Patrol was evacuating some people by helicopter in rural areas of Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties.

“Kaiser Permanente is closely monitoring the situation in Napa and Sonoma Counties,” said spokesman Karl Sonkin. “Our top priority is the safety of our patients, members, staff and our community. Approximately 130 patients were safely evacuated from the Santa Rosa medical center earlier this morning due to fires burning in the area. Patients were transported to Kaiser Permanente in San Rafael and other local hospitals and evacuation sites. All scheduled appointments and surgeries have been cancelled for the day in Santa Rosa and Napa. Kaiser Permanente Napa medical offices at 3285 Claremont Way are closed.

“We will continue to evaluate the situation throughout the day and provide more information as it becomes available.”

In another statement, Kaiser said the evacuation of in Santa Rosa was “successfully completed by 6 a.m. due to fires burning in the area. Patients requiring medical support were transported to other facilities by ambulance. Non-critically ill patients were transported via private buses.”

Kaiser also said that neither its Santa Rosa hospital nor its Napa medical offices were damaged. “Families seeking information about patients in the Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa hospital can call 855-599-0033” to find out where they’d been transferred,” said Kaiser, adding that “nurses and other staff are encouraged to contact their local staffing centers if they are available to assist.”

The causes of all the fires remain under investigation. Daniel Berlant, spokesman with the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said investigators were in the area to determine the causes and origins of the fires.

• Officials do not yet know how many people were injured in the fires. But a spokeswoman for St. Joseph Health said Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital treated about 60 people for wildfire-related injuries, including two burn patients in critical condition. Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa treated about 40 patients, transferring one person with significant burns to a specialty center.

Hospitals scramble to evacuate hundreds of patients in Wine Country fire

Charles Rippey, 100, and his wife, Sara Rippey, 98, lived on Westgate Drive, in the first home on a street where dozens of houses lay in ruins Monday. When the fire — with no warning — came roaring in, there was no time to help them evacuate.

“(Sara) was wheelchair bound and (Charles) was 100 years old,” said Napa County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Foster. “I know they had a caretaker. She was barely able to get out in time and wasn’t able to get to them.”

Charles Rippey Jr., zipped up his parents’ body bags before their remains were taken away. Surveying the damage, he gently ran his fingers through the charred remnants of his parents’ home. His wife knelt nearby to pull pieces from the debris, aided by two Napa County Sheriff’s deputies.

Joe Beltrami woke to sheriffs deputies knocking on his door in the area of Shady Oaks Drive around 2 a.m, ordering him and his wife to leave. They walked out to swirling embers and ash streaming down and a terrifying sight too close for comfort.

On a small side street off Silverado Trail, only the brick chimneys and foundations of several homes remained. The carcass of a dead horse and several goats lay blackened. The sad and grisly scenes were the aftermath of the terrifying inferno that only hours earlier had left pockets of seemingly random destruction in its path.

“It was just a wall of fire coming down the whole mountain,” Beltrami said. They started calling neighbors who live closer to the blaze to alert them of the danger. “They didn’t even know there was a fire,” he said.

“No water and wind makes for a bad combination,” he said. “The fire was moving so fast, it was incredible.”

Still others had gathered at the South Napa Marketplace, one of the few shopping plazas that still had power Monday morning. Many were anxiously awaiting word from loved ones who had to evacuate their homes. But without cell phone service, it was difficult to make contact.

Mary Greeley News