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It was bound to happen with the dry winter and spring winds as numerous vegetation fires broke out early Wednesday May 1, 2013, fanned by wind gusts of over 50mph.  Sonoma County Redcom fire dispatch was non-stop most of the night with calls for trees down.

In the Knights Valley of Sonoma County, red flag fire conditions with low humidity are fueling several fires just east of Highway 128, along the rugged Sonoma, Napa County line.  Numerous downed power lines dot the area of the fires, causing fire damage to at least one home in the 18,000 block of Highway 128.  Burning in grass and oak woodlands and moving in to heavy timber, CalFire equipment including inmate fire crews, engines and bulldozers are being aided by various Sonoma County fire agencies to help stop the advance of the flames near the Yellow Jacket Ranch.

From a perch along Ida Clayton Road above the valley, a waning gibbous moon and fierce down slope northeast winds set the scene for a surreal and balmy early morning with temperatures in the mid-60′s.  The fire, laid out below mountain vineyards lurched through a pine canopy torching 100 foot pine trees every so often, sending flames dozens of feet in the air.  Just to the north of the fires, Mt. St. Helena was bathed in moonlight.  Fine grasses that got a jump start with early season rains, are now on the downside of curing to brown as winds act as a blow torch, robbing the moisture from the vegetation.

A wind driven vegetation fire eats up timber east of Highway 128, early Wednesday May 1, 2013 in Knights Valley at the Yellow Jacket Ranch, on the Napa, Sonoma County line. High winds brought down trees and power lines through the county starting numerous fires. A red flag warning for high fire danger remains in effect until 6pm Wednesday. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

A wind driven vegetation fire eats up timber east of Highway 128, early Wednesday May 1, 2013 in Knights Valley at the Yellow Jacket Ranch, on the Napa, Sonoma County line. High winds brought down trees and power lines through the county starting numerous fires. A red flag warning for high fire danger remains in effect until 6pm Wednesday. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

 

A wind driven vegetation fire eats up timber east of Highway 128, early Wednesday May 1, 2013 in Knights Valley at the Yellow Jacket Ranch, on the Napa, Sonoma County line. High winds brought down trees and power lines through the county starting numerous fires. A red flag warning for high fire danger remains in effect until 6pm Wednesday. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

 

A wind driven vegetation fire eats up timber east of Highway 128, early Wednesday May 1, 2013 in Knights Valley at the Yellow Jacket Ranch, on the Napa, Sonoma County line. High winds brought down trees and power lines through the county starting numerous fires. A red flag warning for high fire danger remains in effect until 6pm Wednesday. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Fire crews responded to a wind driven vegetation fire that damaged this home in the 18,000 block of Highway 128, early Wednesday May 1, 2013 in Knights Valley. High winds brought down trees and power lines through-out the county starting numerous fires. A red flag warning for high fire danger remains in effect until 6pm Wednesday. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Fire crews responded to a wind driven vegetation fire that damaged this home in the 18,000 block of Highway 128, early Wednesday May 1, 2013 in Knights Valley. High winds brought down trees and power lines through-out the county starting numerous fires. A red flag warning for high fire danger remains in effect until 6pm Wednesday. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

A PG&E worker shuts of power in the 18,000 block of Highway 128, early Wednesday May 1, 2013 in Knights Valley. High winds brought down trees and power lines through-out the county starting numerous fires. A red flag warning for high fire danger remains in effect until 6pm Wednesday. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

A CalFire incident command post was establishedin the 16,000 block of Highway 128, early Wednesday May 1, 2013 in Knights Valley. High winds brought down trees and power lines through-out the county starting numerous fires. A red flag warning for high fire danger remains in effect until 6pm Wednesday. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

 

-Kent Porter

 

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