Strong winds threaten evacuations in Woodward Fire, now over 1,500 acres near Point Reyes

Fire officials also say they are facing "unprecedented" high temperatures for this time of year, when it is usually "cold and foggy."
MARIN, Calif. (KGO) -- Strong winds threaten evacuations in Woodward Fire, now over 1,500 acres

More than 1,600 structures are threatened in West Marin due to the Woodward Fire that has grown to over 1,500 acres, burning through Point Reyes National Seashore, north of Bolinas.

At a Thursday morning news conference, fire officials said the fire is 0% contained. Officials say they determined the blaze was sparked by lightning.

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The fire is located in a sparsely populated part of West Marin, about four miles north of Bolinas and a mile inland from Limantour Beach.

There was an evacuation warning Tuesday night for the 11.5-mile area west of state Highway 1 between Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Olema south to Bolinas, and anything west of that. The warning was for residents to be prepared for an actual evacuation.

"We need you ready. If the wind picks up and the fire starts to move, we may issue evacuation orders. When we do that, be ready to leave immediately," said Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber at the briefing.

Veronica Hsieh and her family, who live in Occidental, evacuated to the Olema Campground to escape the LNU Lightning Complex fires that threatens their home in Sonoma County.

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But once they arrived, they found out about the Woodward Fire burning along the ridge nearby. She knows an evacuation warning has been issued for Olema, but for now, the family is staying put.

"We are watching the winds. And when we came in last night, the smoke was over the hills. (The Woodward Fire) is still a little bit off," she says.

Fire officials say they have been able to hold the north and south sides of the fire, adding that one advantage they have is that the western side of the fire is burning along the Pacific coast.

Fire officials also say they are facing "unprecedented" high temperatures for this time of year, when it is usually "cold and foggy."

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Logan Kish, who works at the campground, says many people left once the Woodward Fire began. Like others, he is keeping his eye on the wind.

"The wind has been just been blowing (the fire) out towards the west it seems like, out towards the ocean. And I heard some part of the fire has actually burnt out at some part of the ocean. So, hopefully that continues to happen," says Kish.

Further south of the fire in Bolinas, Spencer Johnson, who works at Coast Cafe, says it has been a tough few days: a wildfire and possible evacuation orders, all in the middle of a pandemic. But he remains optimistic.

"Whatever comes, will come. We can't change the wind. We can't change what's coming," says Johnson. "But we can certainly make sure that everyone here is accounted for and taken care of. It starts with small businesses like this and everyone working together."

Weber said there is competition for certain aircraft tools, and fires further away that have more threat to human lives get first priority.

"Aircraft are prioritized for fires that have immediate life threat. We have natural resources threatened, but not necessarily structures being lost and peoples lives at risk," said Weber.

Fire officials expect crews coming in from Montana, who will arrive by this weekend.

If evacuations become mandatory, the West Marin School in Point Reyes Station may be used as an evacuation center.

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