“This is a life-threatening situation and a danger to our entire town,” said Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli, whose town has a population of nearly 30,000 people.
In an episode that underscored the dangers of civilians staying behind, on Friday evening a firefighter on the Kincade Fire had to deploy a portable shelter - which is made of aluminium and looks like a giant burrito wrapper - and bring two civilians inside to escape advancing flames, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) spokesman Jonathan Cox.
“The decisions that people make regarding evacuations affect the first-responders lives, and we can’t ask you enough: For us to be successful we must have the public evacuate,” Cox said.
The winds were forecast to weaken on Sunday afternoon.
The cause of the Kincade Fire is still under investigation, but officials have said it erupted on Wednesday near the base of a damaged high-voltage transmission tower owned by PG&E.
Earlier in the week, authorities had ordered 2,000 people to evacuate their homes, with flames coming closest to Geyserville, a historic enclave home to about 900 residents and named for geothermal features in the vicinity.
The blaze also has encroached on wineries in a region full of internationally known vintners, including “The Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola.
On Saturday, authorities took advantage of the lull in winds to dispatch several air planes and helicopters to fight the Kincade Fire, said CAL FIRE spokeswoman Tricia Austin.
PG&E said it began shutting off power to some customers in Northern California on Saturday afternoon, in blackouts that would continue rolling out into Sunday evening when residents of Kern County north of Los Angeles would have their electricity shut off.
Outages could last for more than two days, said PG&E spokeswoman Suzanne Hosn.
“We are constantly working to minimize the impact of these safety shutoffs while prioritising public safety,” Hosn said.
SMOKE DAY - NO SCHOOL
The Tick and Kincade fires have worsened air quality in Los Angeles, San Francisco and areas around those two large cities.
In L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, which is just south of the Tick Fire, officials closed all public schools on Friday, giving thousands of students the day off, because of poor air quality.
At its peak, the Tick Fire burning in the Santa Clarita Valley north of Los Angeles forced the evacuation of about 50,000 people. It has destroyed at least nine structures since erupting from an unknown cause on Thursday and has been 25% contained, officials said on Saturday. No injuries have been reported.
Authorities allowed nearly all the residents displaced by the Tick Fire to return to their homes by Saturday morning, said Los Angeles County Fire Captain A.J. Lester, with only several hundred people still under evacuation orders.