Small victories amid Walbridge Fire: Early harvest good news for winemakers, firefighters treated to burritos

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ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Thursday, August 27, 2020
Small victories amid Walbridge Fire fight in Sonoma Co.
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Some firefighters in Healdsburg haven't been home for 10 days amid the Walbridge Fire, part of the LNU Lightning Complex Fire. And today, they were treated to burritos from a El Farolito Restaurant, a little win during a big fire fight.

HEALDSBURG, Calif. (KGO) -- In the hills around Healdsburg's Dry Creek Valley, what passed for firefighting today looked more like piece work. The crews in yellow were happy to have it as they hosed down hotspots, cut smoldering stumps and cut new lines while trying to stay ahead of a Walbridge Fire that has been hard to catch and more difficult to contain for more than a week.

"A lot of firefighters are deep in the wooded forest," said CAL FIRE spokesperson Paul Lowenthal. "Around Guerneville it hasn't burned since the 1900s so knowing where to put containment lines can be tricky."

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Speaking of tricks, winemakers may need to call on few when working with the Valley's 2020 vintage. It is good news that this has been one of the earliest harvests on record, but they still cannot predict the effect of smoke so thick that at times, we couldn't see from one side to of the valley to the other.

RELATED: Humidity helps extinguish flames, but Walbridge Fire rages on northwest of Healdsburg

Winemaker Bill Williamson evacuated last week.

"The short term damage is that some of the vineyards have smoke taint. Higher elevations may have more issues because they were in the smoke stream," he said. "They suffered. The lower ones have done pretty well."

So what was the best of what we saw today?

RELATED: Walbridge Fire 'dodged a bullet' in the North Bay with favorable weather conditions, CAL FIRE says

How about Octavio Diaz from El Farolito Restaurant in Healdsburg donating boxes of burritos to those firefighters.

"We can eat. Burn a lot of calories out there," said firefighter Richard Siler.

His men came from Turlock and Patterson.

They have not been home for 10 days.

No burritos ever tasted better.

VIDEO: Walbridge Fire creeps into historic Armstrong Woods State Park threatening old growth redwoods


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