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A wildfire near the Northern California town of Geyserville is threatening homes and stoking fears of a repeat of the devastating blazes of 2017. Here’s what you need to know–we’ll keep updating this page

Nicole Clausing  – October 24, 2019 | Updated October 28, 2019

Hot, dry, windy conditions across the Golden State have led to an occurrence of something Northern California’s Wine Country has seen all too much of in recent years: dangerous wildfires.

A blaze dubbed the Kincade Fire erupted Wednesday night in Sonoma Country near Geyserville, CA. As of Monday morning, the fire had spread to 66,000 acres, destroyed 40 homes, and caused the evacuation of 185,000 people.

If you are planning on visiting Sonoma County this week, we recommend staying in close contact with your accommodations, whether that’s friends, family, or a hotel. Life goes on as normal in parts of the area, but the county is under a state of emergency. The towns of Geyserville, Healdsburg, and Windsor been evacuated, and roads leading to the town east of Highway 128 are closed. In addition, nearly 20 percent of Sonoma County is without power. If your itinerary takes you to the northeastern part of the county, double-check that the places you intend to visit are still open, and be prepared to have some flexibility with your plans.

Other Fire Danger

It should be noted that the Kincade fire isn’t the only hotspot in the state. The Old Water Fire is currently burning near San Bernardino, in Southern California. This one is slower moving, and threatening a more sparsely populated area, but you should still exercise caution and avoid unnecessary travel to San Bernardino County in the next few days. Another spot of concern is the Palisades Fire, which has damaged homes in the hills above Los Angeles.

So far none of these fires has caused the type of widespread air pollution California saw in 2017, but there are some smoky pockets, especially near Geyserville. If you’re interested in protecting yourself from future smoke, read our guide to home air purifiers.

How to Help

It’s still too early in the crisis to say for certain what kinds of things will be needed, or even what charities might be the most relevant. (Here is a list we compiled during the devastating Camp Fire of 2017.) But one thing that is always helpful in disaster recovery—and recovery is something Wine Country residents know well—is tourist dollars. When the fire’s out, patronizing the region’s excellent inns and restaurants and drinking Sonoma wine will actually be helpful, so please do try to reschedule any postponed travel plans.

For the immediate future, though, the best thing those of us who live outside the region can do is to stay out of the way of first responders, and hope for a break in the red-flag weather that is fanning the flames.