Walbridge Fire destroys homes near Healdsburg, Cal Fire calls it 'top priority'

HEALDSBURG, Calif. (KGO) -- Cal Fire calls the Walbridge Fire its top priority in the LNU Lightning Complex.

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The Walbridge and the Stewart Fire merged overnight and have burned 14,500 acres as of Thursday afternoon.

Officials said there has been significant structure loss and damage.

An evacuation warning was issued for Healdsburg on Wednesday night because of a sudden increase in wind activity.

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As if the call to evacuate wasn't scary enough, the road out was harrowing. One evacuee in Winters, Calif. recorded this as he drove through the fire while evacuating.

On Thursday, officials said the warning was issued out of an abundance of caution, so residents could prepare for a potential evacuation order.

"While there has been spotting, it hasn't been long range enough to be concerned about it getting across the Dry Creek Valley at this point," said CAL FIRE Division Chief Ben Nichols.

Mill Creek Road in Sonoma County has become a smoldering burnscape.

And yet, it seemed almost benign when compared what must have been the hell that roared through here last night.

"It breaks my heart- this is our backyard. This is the fire we have worried about for decades," said Healdsburg Fire Chief Jason Boaz as he toured the fire zone with Supervisor James Gore, who usually has answers for everything.

Not today.

"Does anyone know how many homes burned?" we asked.

"15 to 20," said Gore. "But no one knows confirmed numbers.

On Mill Creek Road, the remnants only hint at what used to be there.

What used to be a beautiful drive through the trees is not, anymore.

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All along that drive, the homes that held so many memories have turned to ashes.

Seth Lewers used to live there. "That was a barn. There was a six-bedroom house. There is another on the right about a hundred yards," he said.

We asked Seth if he could estimate how many homes survived.

"Two houses out of 15?"

Again, it is too early to know.

Almost too painful to guess.

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