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LNU Lightning Complex: 'Not Done With This By A Long Shot'; Hennessey Fire Remains Top Focus

MIDDLETOWN, Lake County (CBS SF) -- The northwest tip of the Hennessey Fire, burning just south of Middletown in Lake County, remains the top priority Friday for firefighting efforts on the LNU Lightning Complex fires, Cal Fire officials said.

"We're going to try and close up this last piece of line down through the area immediately above Angwin and Calistoga and some other communities in Napa County," said Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Chris Waters at a Friday morning briefing.

UPDATE: Evacuation Warnings lifted in Napa County

The Hennessey Fire is the largest in the LNU Lightning Complex fires, which were ignited by lightning strikes Aug. 17 in Napa and Sonoma counties. Collectively, the fires have burned 371,249 acres in Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Solano, Yolo and Colusa counties and are 35 percent contained. The blazes have destroyed 1,080 homes and other buildings, according to Cal Fire's Friday morning update. Those numbers remained unchanged overnight.


In Sonoma County, where the Walbridge Fire has consumed 55,353 acres, officials reported that to date, 91 structures have been either destroyed or have suffered major damage.

The damage assessment isn't complete, Chris Godley, the county's director of emergency management, said at a Thursday evening virtual community meeting.

"We're not done with this by a long shot," he said, "We've been hit and many of our communities are going to be feeling it for a long time."

Firefighters have made notable progress this week, with evacuation orders that had applied to thousands of people being lifted around the complex of fires.

At the peak of the fires in Sonoma County, for example, about 42,000 people had either been ordered to evacuate or warned that they might be. Thursday evening, about 2,100 people remained under evacuation orders and 1,500 were in warning zones, Godley said.

One Sonoma County blaze, the 2,360-acre Meyers Fire north of Jenner, is "all done," Waters said Friday. The far more destructive Walbridge Fire is 25 percent contained and remains "very challenging" due to its rugged terrain, the type of fire fuels present and the many structures it encompasses, he said.

"It's going to take a significant commitment to get that cleaned up," Waters said.

Still, Cal Fire Deputy Incident Commander Ron Myers said at the community meeting, "The good news is that fire has not moved in five days.  That's making us feel really good about the progress that's been completed there."

More than 1,000 personnel - out of the 2,670 assigned to the LNU Lightning Complex - are assigned to the Walbridge Fire, Meyers said.

Late Thursday afternoon, most residents of Guerneville, the Russian River community that had been in the fire's sights since it started, were allowed to return to their homes.

Around the breadth of the Hennessey Fire, Waters said that on Friday "a lot of repopulation efforts will be taking place and trying to get folks back home."

In Napa County, individuals and businesses affected by the LNU Lightning Complex fires can get support through the Napa County Local Assistance Center (LAC), a "one-stop" location for local, State, and Federal recovery resources that may become available.

The LAC is located at the County's Health & Human Services campus at 2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Building A. Napa. Services are available in English and Spanish by appointment or through a limited first-come, first-served basis.

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