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Napa Valley’s Chateau Boswell winery destroyed by Glass Fire

A wildfire in northern California’s Napa Valley wine country that burned down the Chateau Boswell has more than quadrupled in size overnight to 11,000 acres and thousands of residents awoke to mandatory evacuation orders on Monday.

The blaze, since named the Glass Fire, ignited at 3.50am Sunday near Calistoga, about 60 miles north of San Francisco, and was fanned through the area’s famed vineyards by dry wind gusts. 

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The subsequent Shady and Boysen fires merged with Glass, burning 17 square miles as of early Monday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. 

Video footage from the Napa Sheriff’s Office showed authorities driving through the area to make sure residents had evacuated to safety after more than a thousand firefighters have struggled to contain the flames.

 Two thousand people in California’s Napa Valley wine growing area have been ordered to evacuate their homes, and another 3,000 have been told to prepare to.   

Chateau Boswell Winery is burned to the ground from wildfires in St Helena, California on Monday after it was engulfed Sunday

A before and after shot of the Chateau Boswell Winery after the Glass Fire came through, in Saint Helena, California
The blaze, since named the Glass Fire, ignited at 3.50am Sunday near Calistoga, about 60 miles north of San Francisco, and was fanned through the area's famed vineyards by dry wind gusts. The remains of the Chateau Boswell Winery are seen after the Glass Fire came through, in Saint Helena, California, U.S., September 28

A before and after shot of the Chateau Boswell Winery after the Glass Fire came through, in Saint Helena, California

Boswell is one of the handful of family-run private wineries in the region and contributes to the Napa region's quality wine reputation

Boswell is one of the handful of family-run private wineries in the region and contributes to the Napa region’s quality wine reputation

The Chateau Boswell winery started 40 years ago by focusing on Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon but has since branched out

The Chateau Boswell winery started 40 years ago by focusing on Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon but has since branched out

Out of hundreds of wineries in Napa the business is one of a few to sell direct to clients rather than through distributors

Out of hundreds of wineries in Napa the business is one of a few to sell direct to clients rather than through distributors

The subsequent Shady and Boysen fires merged with the initial fire, burning 17 square miles as of early Monday

The subsequent Shady and Boysen fires merged with the initial fire, burning 17 square miles as of early Monday

A truck is seen melted into the ground after the wildfire ripped through the Northern California region on Sunday

A truck is seen melted into the ground after the wildfire ripped through the Northern California region on Sunday

The subsequent Shady and Boysen fires merged with Glass, burning 17 square miles as of early Monday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. Pictured, the stone winery building, Chateau Boswell Winery, Saint Helena, Napa Valley, Napa County, California, before the fire

The subsequent Shady and Boysen fires merged with Glass, burning 17 square miles as of early Monday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. Pictured, the stone winery building, Chateau Boswell Winery, Saint Helena, Napa Valley, Napa County, California, before the fire 

CHATEAU BOSWELL

The Chateau Boswell winery was opened in 1979 by the late Richard Boswell and is one of a handful of privately-owned family wineries amidst the 554 wineries in the Napa Valley.

When it launched 40 years ago it was unique in that it was one of only 71 wineries in the region at the time to behave like a boutique winery – it sold direct to clients when others sold through a distributor.

It used to focus on the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon but has since branched out with its portfolio.

It’s currently under the helm of Susan Boswell and is enjoyed by customers who take advantage of its very limited bottling and green standards when it comes to water and energy use.

 The Glass Fire began Sunday but firefighters reported three other conflagrations in the area Monday morning, which they were dealing with as one large blaze that quickly burned more than 1,000 acres, destroying an unknown number of homes. 

The Chateau Boswell was established in 1979 by the late Richard Boswell and is currently run by Susan Boswell. It’s one of the handful of family-run private wineries in the region and contributes to the Napa region’s quality wine reputation.

As well as the destruction of Chateau Boswell in the town of St. Helena, a castle-style tourist attraction farmhouse winery Castello di Amorosa, plus Merus Wines and Davis Estates were under imminent threat from the fast-moving flames. The Black Rock Inn bed and breakfast was also up in flames.

Firefighters were deploying 133 engines, 22 water tenders, five helicopters and 35 bulldozers, the Napa Valley Register said.

The Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) company cut electricity to 65,000 homes in northern California as a precaution.

Early on Monday, new evacuation orders were issued in Sonoma and Napa counties, including parts of the cities of Santa Rosa – the most populated place in Sonoma County with 177,000 residents – and St. Helena. 

More than 8,500 homes and other buildings were threatened. 

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning through to the end of Monday, forecasting low humidity and gusts of wind up to 55 miles per hour through certain canyons.

Napa Sheriff’s Office said that warning means there’s a potential threat to life and/or property.

The fire also prompted the evacuation of the 151-bed Adventist Health St. Helena hospital on Sunday for a second time in a few weeks after lightning-sparked blazes swept through the area in August.

It was the latest inferno in a historically destructive year throughout the US West. 

In California alone, wildfires so far have scorched more than 3.7 million acres, far exceeding any single year in state history. 

Since August 15, 8,100 fires in the state have killed 26 people and destroyed more than 7,000 structures. Climate change has contributed to wildfires’ growing intensity, scientists say.

A general view of the remains of the Chateau Boswell Winery on Monday after the Glass Fire came through

A general view of the remains of the Chateau Boswell Winery on Monday after the Glass Fire came through 

The fires ripped through Chateau Boswell and other wineries midway through grape picking season in the lead-up to winter

The fires ripped through Chateau Boswell and other wineries midway through grape picking season in the lead-up to winter

Early on Monday, new evacuation orders were issued in Sonoma and Napa counties, including St. Helena

Early on Monday, new evacuation orders were issued in Sonoma and Napa counties, including St. Helena

Wineries and vineyards near Calistoga, California, are destroyed by wildfires. Venge Vinyards is pictured

Wineries and vineyards near Calistoga, California, are destroyed by wildfires. Venge Vinyards is pictured

Wineries and vineyards near Calistoga, California were destroyed by wildfires. The Venge Winery mail box is pictured

Wineries and vineyards near Calistoga, California were destroyed by wildfires. The Venge Winery mail box is pictured

Video footage from the Napa Sheriff's Office showed authorities driving through the area to make sure residents had evacuated to safety

The frightening footage

Video footage from the Napa Sheriff’s Office showed authorities driving through the area to make sure residents had evacuated to safety

A fire hose lays on the ground in front of a home that was destroyed in Santa Rosa, California

A fire hose lays on the ground in front of a home that was destroyed in Santa Rosa, California

A San Bruno firefighter puts out hotspots in a home that was destroyed by the Glass Fire on September 28 in Santa Rosa

A San Bruno firefighter puts out hotspots in a home that was destroyed by the Glass Fire on September 28 in Santa Rosa

Firefighters pour water on a burning structure after the Glass Fire moved through the Oakmont neighborhood on Monday

Firefighters pour water on a burning structure after the Glass Fire moved through the Oakmont neighborhood on Monday

The fast-moving Glass Fire has burned over 11,000 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties

The fast-moving Glass Fire has burned over 11,000 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties

More than 8,500 homes and other buildings were threatened and it's unclear how many have already been destroyed

More than 8,500 homes and other buildings were threatened and it’s unclear how many have already been destroyed

Much of Northern California is under a red flag warning for high fire danger through Monday evening

Much of Northern California is under a red flag warning for high fire danger through Monday evening

Flames consume an Oakmont neighborhood home as the Glass Fire burns in Santa Rosa

Flames consume an Oakmont neighborhood home as the Glass Fire burns in Santa Rosa

The remains of a home that was destroyed by the Glass Fire on September 28, 2020 in Santa Rosa, California

The remains of a home that was destroyed by the Glass Fire on September 28, 2020 in Santa Rosa, California

The remains of a home that was destroyed by the Glass Fire is seen on Monday

The remains of a home that was destroyed by the Glass Fire is seen on Monday

High winds, gusting at 55mph, were hampering attempts to put out the Glass Fire, which broke out at 3:50am on Sunday and has so far burned 2,500 acres near St. Helena.

St. Helena, around 15 miles north of Napa, has been the site of prized wineries since the 1860s. The area is home to Beringer, one of California’s oldest continuously operating wineries, founded by Jacob Beringer and his brother Frederick in 1875. Some wines produced in the region sell for more than $460 a bottle. 

‘We saved the winery last night, but everything else was lost,’ Tuck Beckstoffer, president of a 20-acre vineyard near St Helena, told Wine Spectator magazine on Monday. 

The wine country has been scarred by terrible fires in recent years, including the 2017 Tubbs Fire that killed 22 people and destroyed more than 5,600 homes and other buildings. 

The area is also flanked by the LNU Lightning Complex, which was sparked on August 17 and has destroyed 363,000 acres. It is now 98 per cent contained – unlike the Glass Fire, which is entirely uncontained. 

County emergency management officials say 743 homes and 1,857 people are within the Glass Fire evacuation zone, the Press Democrat reported.

A further 1,370 homes and 3,425 people are in the larger evacuation warning zone. 

Some were evacuated from their homes before dawn, and evacuations continued throughout the day.

Residents at the Oakmont Gardens retirement community are evacuated by bus during the fast-moving Shady Fire

Residents at the Oakmont Gardens retirement community are evacuated by bus during the fast-moving Shady Fire 

Chateau Boswell was the first winery to be certified Napa Green, in recognition of their environmental protection efforts

Chateau Boswell was the first winery to be certified Napa Green, in recognition of their environmental protection efforts

Chateau Boswell's roof was in flames as the blaze ripped through the region in the latest terrifying wildfire

Chateau Boswell’s roof was in flames as the blaze ripped through the region in the latest terrifying wildfire

A plane is seen dumping fire retardant chemicals on the hillsides above the vineyards of Napa Valley

A plane is seen dumping fire retardant chemicals on the hillsides above the vineyards of Napa Valley

Chateau Boswell, a winery founded 40 years ago, was engulfed by flames on Sunday afternoon

Chateau Boswell, a winery founded 40 years ago, was engulfed by flames on Sunday afternoon

A Marin County firefighter is seen battling the Glass Fire in Calistoga as the flames ripped through fields and homes in the area

A Marin County firefighter is seen battling the Glass Fire in Calistoga as the flames ripped through fields and homes in the area

A vineyard was destroyed by the horrific fire which illuminated the sky orange and decimated much of the beautiful landscape

A vineyard was destroyed by the horrific fire which illuminated the sky orange and decimated much of the beautiful landscape

Among those evacuated were 50 patients at Adventist Health St. Helena hospital in Deer Park. 

It was the second wildfire-related evacuation of the 151-bed hospital in a month, after a massive cluster of lightning-sparked blazes that swept several counties north of the San Francisco Bay region in August. 

Fourteen sheriffs deputies from Napa County went door-to-door telling people to evacuate, using high-low sirens to alert residents.

The cause of the fire is being investigated and there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The blaze erupted midway through the traditional grape-harvesting period in the Napa Valley, world renowned as one of California’s premiere wine-producing regions. 

The area’s 475 wineries account for just 4 per cent of the state’s total annual grape harvest but half of the retail value of all California wines sold, according to the Napa Valley Vintners trade group.

Of Napa’s 16 wine-growing districts, or sub-appellations, the Howell Mountain area may have faced the greatest threat, said Lisa Covey, a spokeswoman for Hall Family Wines, which kept open during the day all its three tasting rooms in the county.

Napa and other wine-growing regions have been hit by wildfires in and around the Bay area for several years. Susan Krausz, co-owner of Arkenstone Estate Vineyards in the Howell Mountain community of Angwin, said it would take days or weeks to assess the impact of the latest blaze on valley vintners.

‘Most people have harvested,’ she said, but added, ‘Any time’s a bad time for a fire.’

The Glass Mountain Inn is engulfed by flames after a blaze broke out in St Helena, California, on Sunday, destroying a number of homes

The Glass Mountain Inn is engulfed by flames after a blaze broke out in St Helena, California, on Sunday, destroying a number of homes

The Glass Fire burns behind Merus Wines vineyards in Napa Valley after a heatwave and dry winds created the perfect storm for the blaze to take hold

The Glass Fire burns behind Merus Wines vineyards in Napa Valley after a heatwave and dry winds created the perfect storm for the blaze to take hold

Vines from the Viader Vineyards were engulfed in smoke on Sunday afternoon as the Glass Fire blazed out of control

Vines from the Viader Vineyards were engulfed in smoke on Sunday afternoon as the Glass Fire blazed out of control

A large region of northern California was battling the raging fires as many homes were destroyed in the inferno

A large region of northern California was battling the raging fires as many homes were destroyed in the inferno

The hillsides above the Davis Estates vineyard were ablaze on Sunday, and firefighters were working to protect the site

The hillsides above the Davis Estates vineyard were ablaze on Sunday, and firefighters were working to protect the site

Tom Kaljian, 78, a realtor who owns a house about halfway between Calistoga and St. Helena, defied evacuation orders to spend the day with his wife hosing down their home and dry brush along a fence line separating their property from the Silverado Trail, a key north-south roadway.

‘We were told to get out of here, but I was trying to protect our little abode, so we stayed,’ he told Reuters by telephone.

After firefighters told him the house was no longer in danger, he added, ‘I stopped watering at that point, and came in and took a nap.’ 

‘We are very concerned tonight about red flag conditions,’ said Janet Upton, spokeswoman for the Napa County Office of Emergency Services.

She said that many of the communities were isolated and reached via narrow, winding mountain roads, which made the decision to evacuate more pressing.

Upton said the dry conditions and high winds were worrying firefighters. 

‘There’s been discussion of relative humidity in elevations in the fire area as low as 0 per cent — and kiln-dried wood is at 9 per cent,’ Upton said. 

‘That factor alone, without the winds, would drive dangerous fire behavior.’ 

A Cal Fire fire engine drives into the Louis Stralla Water Treatment Plant during the Glass Fire

A Cal Fire fire engine drives into the Louis Stralla Water Treatment Plant during the Glass Fire

The moon rises behind burning trees along the famous Silverado Trail road, home to dozens of celebrated wineries

The moon rises behind burning trees along the famous Silverado Trail road, home to dozens of celebrated wineries

Firefighters protect a residence from the encroaching Glass Fire at a vineyard in Deer Park

Firefighters protect a residence from the encroaching Glass Fire at a vineyard in Deer Park

The spectacular 100-year-old Davis Estate winery, with its beautiful wooden tasting room, was considered under threat. 

So too was Reverie, founded 25 years ago on a lush Napa hillside.

Photos posted on social media showed planes flying above the Davis Estate, dropping fire retardant chemicals to try and protect the property.

Cal Fire used a DC10 plane, which was capable of dropping almost 10,000 gallons of retardant in eight seconds on each pass. 

The wine country has been scarred by terrible fires in recent years, including the 2017 Tubbs Fire that killed 22 people and destroyed more than 5,600 homes and other buildings. 

County emergency management officials say 743 homes and 1,857 people are within the Glass Fire evacuation zone

County emergency management officials say 743 homes and 1,857 people are within the Glass Fire evacuation zone

Trees surrounding the famous Silverado Trail went up in flames on Sunday as the Glass Fire raged

Trees surrounding the famous Silverado Trail went up in flames on Sunday as the Glass Fire raged

Chris Maschauser rides an ATV to cut off a heard of goats from Mascauser Vineyards and Ranch which had been hired to eat underbrush in order to protect it from the advance of the fire

Chris Maschauser rides an ATV to cut off a heard of goats from Mascauser Vineyards and Ranch which had been hired to eat underbrush in order to protect it from the advance of the fire



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