It may surprise you that this year was California’s third lightest fire season since 2000. To be completely honest, we were surprised too. After the last couple years, with so many impacted by the Tubbs and Camp Fires due to their size and proximity to densely populated areas, the representation of this year’s fire (Kincade) made it easy to revert to the worst-case-scenario thinking.
First and foremost, fires are difficult. For the homes and businesses directly impacted, these fires are dangerous; we never want to downplay the effect on those in the path of a fire. But with each passing year it seems the narrative around California wildfires intensifies. This year’s Kincade Fire is an example of geographic dysmorphia and how a wildfire’s narrative can severely impact those not physically affected.
Sonoma County is approximately 1768 square miles, or about 1,131,520 acres. The Kincade Fire burned 78,000 acres (about 7%) of the County’s total acreage. 60 structures were damaged, 374 structures destroyed, 4 people were injured, and 0 lives were lost. Again, we don’t diminish the pain for those evacuated, who lost their homes, or lost their business. But headlines around these wildfires ranged from “The Age of Flames is Consuming California” to “Why is California burning?” Sonoma proper was its typical beautiful self during the Kincade Fire. The biggest impact? Power shutoffs. PG&E shuts off power to many areas in the county, including some parts of Sonoma, in what are now called “Public Safety Power Shutoffs”, or a PSPS. After this year’s PSPS, our town is coming together with a plan of action to ensure that we can continue to delight guests with businesses running as usual during a power outage. Hotels, restaurants, and fellow wineries are developing plans so that no matter what, we can provide the outstanding hospitality, comfortable stays, amazing wine, and great food we love to share.
We take our commitment to community - neighbors near and far – extremely seriously. Part of that commitment is supporting those who have suffered from natural disasters and helping make sure that those who aren’t affected don’t needlessly suffer too. We write this as an attempt to clarify and work through any concerns you and others have about our beautiful home. Fires have always been a part of life in wild parts of California. We live here because we love it deeply. We love the rolling hills and the blue skies, the rows and rows of vineyards and the delicious wine that comes from them. We love the people who come to visit, and we love sharing this bounty of beauty with each and every one of you. We hope you will join us and #gatherinsonoma soon.