LNU Lightning Complex: Some residents wait to evacuate as Walbridge Fire approaches Russian River region

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ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Saturday, August 22, 2020
LNU Lightning Complex: Residents wait to evacuate as Walbridge Fire approaches Russian River region
Some residents wait to evacuate as Walbridge Fire approaches Russian River region.

HEALDSBURG, Calif. (KGO) -- The LNU Lightning Complex Incident in the North Bay has burned at least 219,067 acres. The group of wildfires was 7% contained as of Friday afternoon.

CAL FIRE said firefighters are having difficulty putting out spot fires. They expect the wildfires to grow in several directions.

Guerneville and the Russian River region have become a ghost town in what should be the busiest time of year. Or, so we thought. There are residents staying put until word they need to evacuate.

"No, there's hundreds of people there, actually," said Linda Kahrau. She and her brother, Mike, own Ferns Grocery in Monte Rio, the "Vacation Wonderland." As the sign on their door says, "Please do call again."

WATCH: Video shows terrifying escape through flames of LNU Lightning Complex fires

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.

Officials said there has been significant structure loss and damage.

"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 on Thursday.

"Nowhere to go," said Mike. "Age of COVID. What you going to do?"

Non-evacuees would probably be watching smoke from the Walbridge Fire. In days past, it has raised havoc, burned more than 20,000 acres, destroyed countless homes, and last night, drew an all-out assault from what looked much of the "CAL FIRE Air Force."

RELATED: Here's what you need to know about all the fires burning in the Bay Area

Natural disasters come with the turf out here, we hear.

"Fire, flood, fire, flood. It just keeps going," said Mike.

It's become a mantra.

"Fire, flood, fire, flood, pandemic, fire, here we are....Ha Ha," laughed DeeDee Partridge. We found her along with family and friends in the redwoods of Rio Nido.

They're more of those so-called "non-evacuees" with bags packed and ashes gathering on top.

Northern California fires: Staggering photos show scope of wildfires' devastation

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In this aerial photograph, an evacuee encampment is seen at a Walmart parking lot in Chico, California on November 19, 2018.
Josh Edelson for the Washington Post