The Latest: PG&E expects to restore all power soon
Oct. 16, 2017
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California's wildfires (all times local):
Pacific Gas and Electric Company officials say they expect to restore power to all its customers in the fire zones by late Monday.
The company said in a statement Sunday that power has been restored to more than 92 percent of homes and businesses that lost power during the wildfires, but about 21,000 electric customers remain without power.
After the wildfires broke, PG&E turned off gas service to about 42,000 customers in the affected areas of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Nearly 900 workers, from PG&E and from other energy companies, have been working to relight pilot lights in areas where it's safe to do so.
The company says safety work on gas pipelines should be completely by the morning. It wasn't immediately known when service would be fully restored.
The Oakland Raiders say they will donate $1 million toward the relief and recovery effort in California wine country.
The NFL team trains in Napa, and long before that, in Santa Rosa, during the offseason.
Team owner Mark Davis says the cities served as the Raiders' summer home for more than 40 years, and the team has built long-lasting relationships with the people and businesses there.
His message to them: "In this time of need, we will be there for you as you have been there for us."
Earlier Sunday, the team held a moment of silence as part of a pregame ceremony for those affected by the wildfires before playing against the Los Angeles Chargers.
A Northern California city beloved for its mud baths and mineral spas has lifted a mandatory evacuation order in place since Wednesday.
The 5,000 residents of Calistoga will be allowed back in at 2 p.m. Sunday as conditions improve and firefighters turn a corner in battling weeklong blazes in Northern California.
They hadn't been allowed in since the order was implemented, leaving the usually bustling city a smoky ghost town.
The Napa County spot is a favorite of day-trippers seeking relaxation and its famous mud baths.
Authorities called for hurried evacuations early Wednesday when winds shifted, threatening homes and businesses in Calistoga.
Volunteers offered free chiropractic treatments and haircuts at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, where evacuees remained anxious and somber thinking of what they have lost and what they need to do next.
Michael Estrada, who is 30, owns a barber shop in Marin County but grew up in one of the Santa Rosa neighborhoods hit hard by the blaze.
He brought his electric clippers and displayed his license for people worried he might be unlicensed. Several people waited for a trim.
Estrada said he knows he's not saving lives, but he hopes he can make people feel normal in the hectic and grim aftermath of destructive wildfires.
Napa lifted an emergency evacuation advisory within city limits on Sunday.
Parts of Napa had been under an evacuation advisory. But the city's 80,000 residents were not under orders to leave their homes.
Officials said on social media that residents should remain on alert because emergency vehicles will continue to be on the roads.
State officials say firefighters made progress battling more than a dozen active fires Saturday night, and they have turned a corner a weeklong fight against flames burning wine country and other rural parts of Northern California.
The Mendocino County Sheriff Department says people in some parts of the county can start returning to their homes around noon as the threat from deadly wildfires eases.
The sheriff's office said Sunday that safety information and protective equipment will be available for returning residents at controlled entrances.
The office said evacuation orders are being lifted, but residents should be prepared to leave if conditions change.
Tens of thousands of California residents have seen their hopes and plans grossly interrupted by the deadly wildfires.
Santa Rosa Junior College student body president Batel Silimon no longer has homework looming — classes were cancelled all week.
She has bigger problems now: Her family lost their home and they are crowded into a battered recreational vehicle.
Meanwhile, the closing of most businesses has interrupted the simplest of daily routines.
A Napa County supervisor said the area hit hard by wildfires is switching to recovery mode.
Supervisor Belia Ramos said Sunday the county expects no more evacuations.
Other authorities at Napa County's daily briefing said roads will remain closed until workers can clear them of downed trees and power poles.
A state fire spokesman says it appears firefighters are making good progress on deadly wildfires that started a week ago, devastating wine country and other parts of rural Northern California.
Daniel Berlant, spokesman for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Sunday that some of the area's most stubborn fires are more than 50 percent contained.
Berlant said weather conditions are much better than they were 24 hours ago, and winds expected to kick up overnight did not materialize.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said the county will begin assessing evacuated areas for damage, which is a necessary step for lifting evacuation orders.
The office also said Sunday that county workers will be driving vehicles emblazoned with the county seal and all assessment workers with have IDs.
Looting has been a serious worry among residents since wildfires broke out a week ago.
On Saturday, the sheriff's office reported it had arrested two men and one woman suspected of "cruising" the Boyes Hot Springs area of Sonoma.
They fled in fear nearly a week ago. Now they're ready to go back.
While wildfires are still burning powerfully in parts of Northern California, some of the tens of thousands of evacuees are getting antsy to return to homes that aren't under immediate threat. Others want to see if they still have homes to return to.
But authorities are staying cautious in the face of blazes that have now killed at least 30 people and destroyed at least 5,700 homes.
Although some evacuees were returning home in Mendocino County, the latest estimates were that about 100,000 people were under evacuation orders as the fires burned for a sixth day.
Follow the AP's complete wildfire coverage here: https://apnews.com/tag/Wildfires