This past Tuesday, August 20th, a vegetation fire began to burn on the side of Fitch mountain, near downtown Healdsburg.
The fire, located only about 25 minutes from the heart of downtown Healdsburg and just 45 minutes away from Sonoma State University, caused enough alarm that officials and law enforcement ordered the mandatory evacuation of Valley View Drive, Benjamin Way, and Sunset Drive.
Officials were initially notified about the fire at around 1:55 p.m. and mandated an evacuation at 2:00 pm. According to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s department, the alert was sent out via Nixel:
An emergency notification system that keeps residents up to date with “ relevant information from local public safety departments and school’s”.
Fortunately for the families and other members of the Healdsburg community, the Finch Mountain Fire was quickly contained by local fire departments. As first responders were able to quickly surround the vegetation fire and ensure that it would not spread to any populated areas.
According to a press release from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, “there were no reported injuries”
With the fire being deemed contained at 3:00 p.m. the mandatory evacuation was lifted and the residents of Valley View Drive, Benjamin Way, and Sunset Drive were all allowed to return to their individual homes.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, the Fitch Mountain Fire is just one of many vegetation fires that have appeared in the last month here in California, with over 48 reported and contained in the month of August.
For some students here at Sonoma State University fires such as the Fitch Mountain are and all too familiar and unsettling sight.
Sonoma State Senior Zac Taughter said, “Fires like the one on Fitch Mountain always make me feel a little uneasy, I mean after what we went through in 2017 it just feels like any small fire can turn into a serious wildfire with something as simple as a gust of wind”.
Taughter also went on to point out just how dry of spring and summer that we have had here in Sonoma County as he also said, “when you drive around you can just see how dry the hillsides are. To me it seems like one big tinderbox just waiting to be lit, so yeah it’s definitely a little concerning”.
California Fire will have to be on high alert this fall, as according to their official website: “Warmer spring and summer temperatures, reduced snowpack, and earlier spring snowmelt create longer and more intense dry seasons that increase moisture stress on vegetation and make forests more susceptible to severe wildfire.”
And according to Cal Fire, the 2019 fire season is one that they are taking more seriously than ever as “The length of fire season is estimated to have increased by 75 days across the Sierras and seems to correspond with an increase in the extent of forest fires across the state.”
Cal Fire urges all of those who live in California to be ready with an evacuation plan in case a wildfire hits an area near you.