Some Napa County residents choose to stay despite evacuation orders as Hennessey Fire explodes in size

ByCornell W. Barnard KGO logo
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Some Napa County residents choose to stay despite evacuation orders as Hennessey Fire explodes in size
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in the area of the Hennessey fire in Napa County. Many residents have already left, but others are staying to personally protect their homes and businesses.

NAPA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- In Napa County, hundreds of firefighters are battling a fire in wine country. The Hennessey Fire ignited Monday around 6:40 a.m. in the 60 block of Hennessey Ridge Road

The fast-moving brush fire exploded in size by the afternoon, growing to 2,400 acres. As of Monday night, there was zero containment.

The fire prompted evacuations in the area but some homeowners have chosen to stay.

The Napa County Sheriff's Office issued mandatory evacuation orders for: Highway 128 from Lower Chiles to Monticello, Highway 128 from Chiles Pope Valley Road to Lower Chiles Road, Chiles Pope Valley Road from 128 to Lower Chiles Road and All of Hennessey Ridge Road.

Evacuation warnings are issued for the following areas: Highway 128 at Silverado Trail to Chiles Pope Valley Road, including the Pritchard Hills Area, Highway 128 at Lower Chiles Road to Turtle Rock Road closures in area (includes Chiles-Pope Valley Road, Sage Canyon Road, Highway 128).

Those seeking shelter options can visit the Napa County's evacuation shelter at the Crosswalk Church.

VIDEO: Hennessey Fire burns 2,500 acres in Napa County, 0% contained

A brush fire that erupted in Napa County this morning has exploded in size.

The fast-moving wildfire burned through thousands of acres of dry brush in the hills above St. Helena.

SKY7 was over the Hennessey Fire late Monday as the blaze exploded in size, burning through rugged terrain.

Cal Fire attacked the fire from all sides, including precise air drops of flame retardant.

RELATED: Deer Zone Fires in Contra Costa County quickly grow

Hundreds of firefighters were staging near Hennessey Ridge Road. This fire was possibly started by lightning strikes. Monday's weather didn't help firefighters one bit.

"When you have hot conditions, it's not favorable, storms bring in wind, which keeps fire active," said Will Powers, CalFire spokesperson.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in the area. Many residents have gone, but Jeff Nichelini is staying, ready to save the winery that's been in his family for 130 years.

"We're a little winery but a big family, half of my cousins are around, at the ready if the fire gets close, we have hoses out ready to make a stand," Nichelini said.

Down the road, Philip Sunseri is watching the fire creep over the ridge near his home. He's got a sprinkler system, wetting down his roof.

"We're going to stay as long as we can, if it gets unsafe we'll leave the sprinklers on and hope for the best," said Sunseri.

Road closures in the area include Chiles-Pope Valley Road, Sage Canyon Road, and Highway 128.

Several hundred homes are currently threatened. Firefighters are doing all they can to save them.