Hundreds evacuated as massive wildfire spreads rapidly in Northern California due to 70mph winds

Hundreds of California residents have been forced to evacuate after a wind-driven wildfire spread overnight as 500,000 people are left without power in the Golden State’s second planned blackout in two weeks. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) says winds around the highest areas of Sonoma County have been blowing at speeds up to 70mph, and elsewhere in the region there are winds between 30mph and 50mph.

According to dispatch reports, the Kincade fire spread to about 1,000 acres by 11pm Wednesday night. 

As of Thursday morning, Cal Fire, the state firefighting agency, says the blaze near Geyserville has grown to 10,000 acres and has no containment. All residents of Geyserville were ordered to evacuate. Geyserville has about 900 residents and is a popular stop for wine country tourists.

The Sonoma County sheriff’s office confirmed that residents had to flee their homes overnight due to the blaze. 

  

Hundreds of California residents have been forced to evacuate after a wind-driven wildfire spread overnight. Embers fly from a tree as the Kincade Fire burns near Geyserville, California, on Thursday

Horrifying photos show firefighters battling the blaze overnight as it continued to spread. A fire truck is seen rushing toward the flames during the Kincade fire

Horrifying photos show firefighters battling the blaze overnight as it continued to spread. A fire truck is seen rushing toward the flames during the Kincade fire 

The Sonoma County sheriff's office confirmed that residents had to flee their homes overnight due to the blaze. Firefighters confer while battling the Kincade Fire near Geyserville, California, on Thursday

The Sonoma County sheriff’s office confirmed that residents had to flee their homes overnight due to the blaze. Firefighters confer while battling the Kincade Fire near Geyserville, California, on Thursday

Susi Weaver, the manager for the Hawkeye Ranch in the Mayacamas Mountains in Geyserville, California, is seen spraying down the dry brush as the Kincade fire spreads across her property

Susi Weaver, the manager for the Hawkeye Ranch in the Mayacamas Mountains in Geyserville, California, is seen spraying down the dry brush as the Kincade fire spreads across her property

The National Weather Service (NWS) says winds around the highest areas of Sonoma County have been blowing at speeds up to 70mph, and elsewhere in the region there are winds between 30mph and 50mph. Embers were seen blowing in the wind at the bottom of a tree trunk

The National Weather Service (NWS) says winds around the highest areas of Sonoma County have been blowing at speeds up to 70mph, and elsewhere in the region there are winds between 30mph and 50mph. Embers were seen blowing in the wind at the bottom of a tree trunk

While battling the blaze, a firefighter came across a fire whirl that was whipping across the dry brush

While battling the blaze, a firefighter came across a fire whirl that was whipping across the dry brush

This photo shows flames approaching rolling hills of grape vines in Sonoma County, which is the heart of California's world famous wine country

This photo shows flames approaching rolling hills of grape vines in Sonoma County, which is the heart of California’s world famous wine country

Mandatory evacuations were prompted east of Geyserville after the wildfire sparked along the Lake County line.

Officials ordered evacuations for Red Winery Road, Alexander Mountain Road, California 128 and all roads off River Road. An evacuation center has been set up at Windsor High School. 

Cal Fire spokesman Will Powers said the blaze near the Geysers area was burning at a ‘dangerous rate’.

Video from the Geyserville Fire Protection District shows the fire burning out of control in Sonoma County. Horrifying photos showed firefighters battling the blaze overnight as it continued to spread. 

Embers were seen blowing in the wind at the bottom of tree trunks as a fire whirl was spotted whipping across the dry brush. 

One photo showed flames approaching rolling hills of grape vines in Sonoma County, which is the heart of California’s world famous wine country. 

The Kincade fire is burning north of Geyserville, California. The fire broke out in the area Wednesday night

The Kincade fire is burning north of Geyserville, California. The fire broke out in the area Wednesday night 

This graphic shows the evacuation area where the Kincade fire is currently spreading in California

This graphic shows the evacuation area where the Kincade fire is currently spreading in California 

Other images showed firefighters lighting backfires. Backfiring is a controlled burn. In this strategy, firefighters attempt to halt the advance of a wildfire, or redirect it, by burning up fuel in its path.

UCLA climate scientist tweeted that it ‘looks like #KincadeFire in #Sonoma County, already large & fast-moving, may well burn all the way toward east side of #AlexanderValley –where nearly continuous line of vineyards will hopefully act as broad firebreak. 65mph+ winds in hills, but nearly calm in valleys.’

A photographer on site said they saw at least three homes completely destroyed by the fire in Sonoma County. Authorities said it’s too early for firefighters to assess the structures that have burned.

An evacuation warning for the town of northern Healdsburg is still in place.

Separately, officials were responding to a vegetation fire in Annadel State Park southeast of Santa Rosa, the local fire department said.

The cause of the Kincade fire is under investigation. There are no reports of injuries.

Meanwhile, portions of Northern California remain in the dark after Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) cut power to 500,000 residents to prevent wildfires from sparking during dry and windy conditions. 

A firefighting bulldozer moves into position along Geysers Road while battling the Kincade fire, near Geyserville, California, on Thursday

A firefighting bulldozer moves into position along Geysers Road while battling the Kincade fire, near Geyserville, California, on Thursday 

As of Thursday morning, Cal Fire, the state firefighting agency, says the blaze near Geyserville has grown to 10,000 acres

 As of Thursday morning, Cal Fire, the state firefighting agency, says the blaze near Geyserville has grown to 10,000 acres

Vines are silhouetted against the Kincade fire seen burning in a valley near Geyserville, California, on Thursday

Vines are silhouetted against the Kincade fire seen burning in a valley near Geyserville, California, on Thursday 

Firefighters use a drip torch to light a backfire ahead of the Kincade fire on Thursday in Geyserville, California. Backfiring is a controlled burn. In this strategy, firefighters attempt to halt the advance of a wildfire, or redirect it, by burning up fuel in its path

Firefighters use a drip torch to light a backfire ahead of the Kincade fire on Thursday in Geyserville, California. Backfiring is a controlled burn. In this strategy, firefighters attempt to halt the advance of a wildfire, or redirect it, by burning up fuel in its path 

Lights went out across large portions of Northern California on Wednesday as PG&E began its second massive blackout in two weeks.

Nearly 28,000 customers are without power in parts of Sonoma County, which lost electricity around 3pm on Wednesday. 

The company said the rolling blackouts stretching from the Sierra foothills in the northeast to areas north of the San Francisco Bay area would ultimately impact a half-million families as part of the 180,000 customers within the 17 counties.

‘We understand the hardship caused by these shutoffs,’ said Bill Johnson, CEO of PG&E. ‘But we also understand the heartbreak and devastation caused by catastrophic wildfires.’ 

The utilities company said the precautionary blackouts are designed to keep winds that could gust to 60mph or more from knocking branches into power lines or toppling them, sparking wildfires. 

A photographer on site said they saw at least three homes completely destroyed by the fire in Sonoma County

A photographer on site said they saw at least three homes completely destroyed by the fire in Sonoma County

Authorities said it's too early for firefighters to assess the structures that have burned

Authorities said it’s too early for firefighters to assess the structures that have burned

The cause of the Kincade fire is under investigation.  A structure is seen burning Thursday morning during the Kincade fire

The cause of the Kincade fire is under investigation.  A structure is seen burning Thursday morning during the Kincade fire

What appears to be a home, has been reduced to ash and rubble after the Kincade fire moved through the area on Thursday

What appears to be a home, has been reduced to ash and rubble after the Kincade fire moved through the area on Thursday 

Flames consume a home as the Kincade Fire tears through the Jimtown community of Sonoma County, California, on Thursday

Flames consume a home as the Kincade Fire tears through the Jimtown community of Sonoma County, California, on Thursday 

This photo shows an aerial view of the fire as it continued to spread Thursday morning

This photo shows an aerial view of the fire as it continued to spread Thursday morning 

Thick clouds of smoke billowed form the fire as it tore through Sonoma County Thursday morning

Thick clouds of smoke billowed form the fire as it tore through Sonoma County Thursday morning 

This aerial image shows the fire spreading across several thousand acres on Thursday

This aerial image shows the fire spreading across several thousand acres on Thursday 

Geysers Road was one of several roads that had to be closed due to the raging fire on Thursday

Geysers Road was one of several roads that had to be closed due to the raging fire on Thursday 

Electrical equipment was blamed for setting several fires in recent years that killed scores of people and burned thousands of homes.

The latest outage comes two weeks after PG&E shut down the power for several days to about 2 million people in northern and central California.

The current outages will last about 48 hours, the utility company said. But its seven-day forecast shows a likelihood of another planned blackout across a much larger area. 

The timing wasn’t clear but it could start as early as Saturday, when even heavier winds are expected to move through parts of California.

‘This could be the strongest wind event of the season, unfortunately,’ PG&E meteorologist Scott Strenfel said.

Strenfel called the current wind event a ‘California-wide phenomenon’.  

Elijah Carter (left), 11, and Robert Haralson (right), 12, help shop for their parents in a darkened Olivers Supermarket in the Rincon Valley community on Wednesday in Santa Rosa, California

Elijah Carter (left), 11, and Robert Haralson (right), 12, help shop for their parents in a darkened Olivers Supermarket in the Rincon Valley community on Wednesday in Santa Rosa, California 

Power lines are worked on in South Gate, California, on Wednesday, as scorching temperatures and the Santa Ana winds heighten the risk of wildfires in Southern California

Power lines are worked on in South Gate, California, on Wednesday, as scorching temperatures and the Santa Ana winds heighten the risk of wildfires in Southern California

In the south, where hot, dry Santa Ana winds were expected to hit Thursday, officials said flames are no longer visible from the Southern California but mandatory and voluntary evacuations remain in place as the winds gust through the region and create extreme fire risk. 

The fire broke out early Thursday about 60 miles east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest near the city of San Bernardino.

The US Forest service said in a statement that firefighters have made good progress but have not established containment lines around the area where vegetation is still smoldering.

Photos have shown the scorched landscape with no flames apparent and little smoke.

The Forest Service says 80 homes are under evacuation in the city and a Red Cross shelter has opened at a high school.

Southern California Edison warned that it might black out about 308,000 customers – perhaps 750,000 people – depending on the forecast. 

San Diego Gas & Electric warned of power shutoffs to about 24,000 customers. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk