Kincade Fire

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Kincade Fire
Kincade Fire tmo 2019297 MODIS.jpg
Satellite image of smoke from the Kincade Fire on October 24
LocationJohn Kincade Road and Burned Mountain Road, northeast of Geyserville, Sonoma County, California, United States
Coordinates38°47′33″N 122°46′48″W / 38.792458°N 122.780053°W / 38.792458; -122.780053Coordinates: 38°47′33″N 122°46′48″W / 38.792458°N 122.780053°W / 38.792458; -122.780053
Date(s)October 23, 2019 (2019-10-23) – November 6, 2019 (2019-11-06)
Burned area77,758 acres (31,468 ha)[1]
Causeelectrical transmission lines located northeast of Geyserville owned and operated by PG&E[3]
Buildings destroyed374[1]
Non-fatal injuries4[1]
Kincade Fire is located in California
Kincade Fire
Location in California

The Kincade Fire was a wildfire that burned in Sonoma County, California in the United States. The fire started northeast of Geyserville in The Geysers on 9:24 p.m. on October 23, 2019, and subsequently burned 77,758 acres (31,468 ha) until the fire was fully contained on November 6, 2019. The fire threatened over 90,000 structures and caused widespread evacuations throughout Sonoma County, including the communities of Geyserville, Healdsburg, Windsor, and Santa Rosa. The majority of Sonoma County and parts of Lake County were under evacuation warnings and orders. Lake county only had one evacuation order and that was the town of Middletown. The fire was the largest of the 2019 California wildfire season, and also the largest wildfire recorded in Sonoma County at the time before being surpassed by the LNU Lightning Complex fires in 2020.[4]

The fire[edit]

The Kincade Fire was reported burning at John Kincade Road and Burned Mountain Road in The Geysers, northeast of Geyserville, California, at 9:57 PM on October 23, 2019.[5][6] The fire started at 9:24 PM during an extreme wind event.[7]

A compulsory report shows that the fire started when a 230,000 volt transmission line failed near the point of origin, just as power was about to be shut off in the area.[8] On October 26, PG&E began shutting off power in an attempt to prevent additional fires, leaving an estimated three million people without power.[9] On October 28, the California Public Utilities Commission announced an investigation into the shutoffs.[10]

"Despite the latest shutdowns, PG&E admitted last week that its equipment may have started the Kincade fire," said the San Jose Mercury News in an editorial condemning the utility's practices and calling for regulatory action.[11] A San Francisco Chronicle editorial also called for the California Public Utilities Commission to

"give PG&E the kind of serious regulatory attention it should have been subject to many years ago."[12]

and noted that while California governor Gavin Newsom expressed an interest in a Berkshire Hathaway takeover of the utility, "[a]nyone who would bid for PG&E would also be bidding for all of its liabilities -- from the bankruptcy proceedings to fire victim claims to safety improvement bills ... "[12]


An orange sunrise over San Francisco, caused by smoke from the fire, on October 29, 2019

The fire "chewed through more than 100 sq mi (260 km2) and destroyed or damaged over 120 buildings."[13] Eighty thousand more structures were threatened by the fire, and PG&E said it had cut off power to more than a million customers.[13] According to the Federal Communications Commission, hundreds of cell phone towers were down because of power shutoffs.[14] The Soda Rock Winery in Healdsburg was destroyed and the Field Stone Vineyard was heavily damaged.[15]


On October 26, compulsory evacuations had been issued for 90,000 people. As the fire spread, by October 27, evacuation orders and warnings grew to encompass nearly all of Sonoma County, including about 190,000 people, making it the largest evacuation ever in Sonoma County. Many people were forced to flee in the darkness due to ongoing power shutoffs in the region.[9]

National Guard Roadblock during Kincade Fire

The Sonoma County government, in conjunction with Esri, published an interactive map containing incidents and evacuation zones associated with the fires.[16]


In the early weeks of the fire, PG&E initiated a massive power shut-off to nearly 940,000 customers by October 26, with a projected total number of customers impacted to be close to 2.5 to 2.8 million. There were to be six phases of power shutoff between October 26 and 27.[17] The outages did not go over well. "The issue isn't even all of the power shutoffs," said Mendocino County chief executive Carmel Angelo. "It's the lack of communication."[18]

Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit commuter rail offered free service between October 30 and November 6 initially as far north as Downtown Santa Rosa, then eventually on the whole line for those needing transportation alternatives.[19]

Fire growth and containment progress[edit]

Fire containment status[20]
Gray: contained; Red: active; %: percent contained;
Date Area burned acres (km2) Containment
Oct 23 400 acres (2 km2)[21]
Oct 24 16,000 acres (65 km2)[22]
Oct 25 23,700 acres (96 km2)[23]
Oct 26 25,955 acres (105 km2)[24]
Oct 27 54,298 acres (220 km2)[25]
Oct 28 74,324 acres (301 km2)[26]
Oct 29 76,138 acres (308 km2)[27]
Oct 30 76,825 acres (311 km2)[28]
Oct 31 76,825 acres (311 km2)[29]
Nov 1 77,758 acres (315 km2)[30]
Nov 2 77,758 acres (315 km2)[31]
Nov 3 77,758 acres (315 km2)[32]
Nov 4 77,758 acres (315 km2)[33]
Nov 5 77,758 acres (315 km2)[34]
Nov 6 77,758 acres (315 km2)[35]

Cause of the fire[edit]

Initially, it was unknown whether or not PG&E was at fault for the fire.[36] In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), PG&E estimated a minimum loss of $600 million before available insurance.[37] On July 16, 2020, which was after PG&E exited bankruptcy, Cal Fire reported that the fire was caused by PG&E transmission lines.[3][38] Cal Fire did not make the report public, but forwarded the investigation report to the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office for further investigation.[clarification needed] Wildfire victims filed a civil lawsuit for damages caused by the fire.[39][40] Damages would not be covered by the settlement for wildfire victims that was part of the PG&E bankruptcy.[38][41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Kincade Fire | Welcome to CAL FIRE". Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "Kincade Fire Incident Update" (PDF). California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. State of California. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Fusek, Maggie (July 17, 2020). "Kincade Fire Caused By PG&E Equipment, Cal Fire Says". Patch. Cal Fire investigators determined the Sonoma County wildfire that destroyed 374 homes and structures was traced to PG&E equipment.
  4. ^ "Kincade fire, biggest in county history, has scorched an area 3x the size of Santa Rosa". Santa Rosa Press Democrat. October 30, 2019. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Chabria, Anita; Dolan, Maura (October 27, 2019). "Blackouts and mass evacuations as Kincade fire grows amid high winds". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  6. ^ Graff, Amy (October 24, 2019). "Map: Kincade Fire burning in north Sonoma County". SFGate. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  7. ^ "Kincade Fire: Why PG&E is on the hot seat again over latest devastating wildfire". The Mercury News. October 25, 2019. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  8. ^ Gafni, Matthias (October 26, 2019). "PG&E connection to Kincade Fire could deepen utility's jeopardy". SF Chronicle. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Cagle, Susie; Koran, Mario (October 27, 2019). "'You can't fight this': California wildfires force historic evacuation in Sonoma County". The Guardian. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  10. ^ Marisa Kendall; Maggie Angst; Julia Prodis Sulek; Fiona Kelliher; Thy Vo (October 30, 2019). "AFTER RESPITE, WINDS RETURN: 76,000 ACRES BURNED IN KINCADE FIRE; PG&E TO ISSUE REBATES: Bay Area : PG&E may restore power today, but air quality issues are likely to remain". San Jose, CA: The Mercury News. p. A1.
  11. ^ "PG&E fiasco calls for new PUC vision on ensuring safe power". San Jose, CA: Mercury News. October 30, 2019. p. A10.
  12. ^ a b "Cutting the cord with PG&E". San Francisco Chronicle. October 30, 2019. p. A10.
  13. ^ a b John Bacon; Chris Woodyard (October 29, 2019). "New wildfire sends more fleeing: Thousands in California ordered to leave homes". USA Today. p. 3A.
  14. ^ Levi Sumagaysay (October 30, 2019). "PG&E, wireless carriers answer bit questions". San Jose: Mercury News. p. A7.
  15. ^ Jessica Yadegaran (October 30, 2019). "One winery destroyed, others suffer damage". San Jose: Mercury News. p. A7.
  16. ^ "ArcGIS Web Application". Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  17. ^ Aaro, David (October 26, 2019). "California wildfires force more than 50,000 evacuations after 'historic wind event,' more power shutoffs". Fox News. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  18. ^ Janie Har; Jocelyn Gecker (October 30, 2019). "Anger mounting: Frustration is building amid another round of PG&E blackouts". San Mateo: The Daily Journal. p. 1.
  19. ^ "Smart Train Service Running On Limited Schedule Wednesday Through Nov. 6". SFGate. Bay City News Service. October 29, 2019. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  20. ^ "Kincade Fire Newsreleases". Cal Fire.
  21. ^ "CAL FIRE LNU Twitter".
  22. ^ "Kincade Fire Incident" (PDF).
  23. ^ "Kincade Fire Incident Update" (PDF).
  24. ^ "Kincade Fire Incident Update" (PDF).
  25. ^ "Kincade Fire Incident Update" (PDF).
  26. ^ "Kincade Fire Incident Update" (PDF).
  27. ^ "Kincade Fire Incident Update" (PDF).
  28. ^ "Kincade Fire Incident Update" (PDF).
  29. ^ "Cal Fire's beatdown of Kincade intensifies, reaches 60% containment".
  30. ^ "Kincade Fire is now 65% contained".
  31. ^ "Containment of Kincade Fire Increases to 72%".
  32. ^ "Kincade Fire containment grows to 72% while Ventura County fire still rages".
  33. ^ "Kincade Fire 80% Contained; All Evacuations Lifted".
  34. ^ "Kincade Fire containment grows to 86% as residents put back the pieces".
  35. ^ Rossman & Lee (November 6, 2019). "Kincade fire in Sonoma County fully contained". Press Democrat. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  36. ^ Ezyk, Nicholas (November 7, 2019). "PG&E's Bankruptcy: A Bad Sign for American Utilities". The Motley Fool.
  37. ^ "FORM 10-Q Quarterly Report for PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, March 31, 2020" (PDF). U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. March 31, 2020. p. 68.
  38. ^ a b Balaraman, Kavya (July 20, 2020). "PG&E faces further investigation after California officials blame utility for Kincade Fire". Utility Dive.
  39. ^ St. John, Jeff (July 17, 2020). "Post-Bankruptcy PG&E Faces Lawsuit for Its Role in Causing the 2019 Kincade Wildfire". Greentech Media. Weeks after exiting bankruptcy caused by massive fire liabilities, California’s biggest utility faces another wildfire lawsuit.
  40. ^ Balaraman, Kavya (July 16, 2020). "'Absolute lack of preparation:' PG&E sued over 2019 fire weeks after bankruptcy exit". Utility Dive.
  41. ^ PG&E (March 17, 2020). "Disclosure Statement to the Plan" (PDF download). Prime Clerk. pp. 24–29.

External links[edit]