After The Fire

Oct 12, 2017

Issues relating to access to Soda Canyon Road properties and updates on PG&E progress will continue on the Atlas Fire page. Issues regarding near and long term aftermath of the fire, like insurance and rebuilding (and lawsuits?) will be collected here. Also, perhaps a discussion about what Napa may become or should become after such a catastrophic event.

My guess is that there will be an enormous development rush now. The tourism industry will demand any number of concessions to counter the devastating impacts of the fire. Residents and the County will want to rebuild quickly, and, if the Oakland hills fire is any guide, will want to expand their holdings. Developers may also want to rebuild and flip houses as vineyard estates for owners not wishing to return, or to develop new vineyard estates on properties as yet undeveloped while land values have dipped. The wine industry will want expand vineyard areas newly cleared of woodlands. There will be enormous amounts of recovery and insurance money pouring into the county and that money will find its way not just into rebuilding but in expanding the built environment of the county. In every disaster there is ample opportunity for profiteers. It is not an appetizing prospect for those concerned about protecting a rural Napa.

County map of buildings destroyed or damaged in fire
Satellite Image of fire area taken 10/18/17
The most painfully visible satellite view of the fire damage is now on Google Earth
Potential property tax-reduction notice
Natural Resources Conservation Service (damage assessments)
Office of Emergency Services Wildfire Recovery page
Final Household Hazardous Waste Removal & Debris Removal Program with forms
County debris removal information page with links
Oct 24, 2017 BOS resolution and documents adding to County policy manual: Rebuilding After a Disaster (Item 10D here)

NVR 11/13/17: Architects brainstorm better ways to rebuild after Wine Country fires
NVR 11/10/17: Fire rebuilding challenges availability of Napa area contractors
NVR 11/9/17: Napa County, PG&E removing trees in wake of wildfires
NVR 11/9/17: Government ramping up removal of burnt homes in Napa County
NVR 11/1/17: Napa County opens a Pop-Up Recovery Center for fire victims
NVR 10/31/17: Federal officials promise prompt debris removal from Napa area fires
NVR 10/24/17: Cal Fire says 569 Napa County houses destroyed by fires
NYT 10/21/17: A Search for What (or Who) Caused California’s Fires
NYT 10/21/17: How California’s Most Destructive Wildfire Spread, Hour by Hour [Santa Rosa]
NYT 10/20/17: After Fires, Napa and Sonoma Tourism Industry Is Getting Back on Its Feet
SJ Mercury News 10/18/17: Governor Brown issues order to speed up Wine Country fire recovery efforts
NVR 10/19/17: Napa County tallies 600 damaged and destroyed structures
NVR 10/181/7: Napa County wildfires bring water quality challenges


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After the fire photos

Bill Hocker - Nov 10, 2017 10:00AM  Share #1793

Update 11/10/17
SR Press Democrat 11/101/7: Displaced Sonoma County residents wrestle with rise in post-fire visitors to burned neighborhoods

I have been taking photos after the fire and have been putting them up on my photo website here. I will keep adding them as I take more. Some show burned homes, and may be painful for their owners to look at. I will remove any that owners may object to. Contact me here.

The article in the Press Democrat presents a split opinion by residents to have outsiders view the destruction. A resident next to us on Soda Canyon Road calls it a purient interest. I think of it as witnessing (and recording) a significant historical occurrence. I am a bit of a hypocrit, of course. When it involves tourists coming up the road on a daily basis to view our (normal) homes and lifestyles as part of a Napa winery "experience", I become less philosophical.

Other photos on this site taken of the fire and its aftermath are here and Amber Manfree's here.

Memorial Service for Sally Lewis

Bill Hocker - Nov 10, 2017 9:28AM  Share #1799

Sally Lewis' daughter, Windy Tirados, extends an invitation to a Memorial Celebration of Life to be held for Sally who perished in the fire on Soda Canyon Road.

November 18th , Saturday from 12:00-4:00
At the Paradise Valley Golf Club
Fairfield, Ca

Draft Rebuilding Regulations

Bill Hocker - Nov 10, 2017 8:59AM  Share #1798

The County Planning department has produced a draft "Urgency Ordinance" governing the rebuilding of structures destroyed by the October fires in Napa county. There will be a meeting on Nov. 13th, 2017 to discuss the draft ordinance aimed at the building professionals (including those who will be working for homeowners) that will be governed by its conditions. County Planning Manager Vin Smith's email:

I have reserved the Board of Supervisors Chambers for Monday, November 13th at 10:30 to discuss the recommended Urgency Ordinance we are preparing for the Board’s consideration. We are working on Draft Language that I have attached to this email for your review. Keep in mind this is a work in progress, but it represents a bulk of the changes we are proposing to accommodate efficient and swift building permit processing for those who have suffered loss as a result of the fires.

I have focused this invite on industry professionals (Civil, Architect, Contractors, Planners, Attorneys) not to exclude but to ensure our dialogue is about the Urgency Ordinance itself, as the ordinance provides recommended process changes to streamline building permit issuance and you are the local experts.

For time planning purposes, I anticipate this meeting taking 90-minutes or less. I hope you can free-up a part of you Monday for this meeting.

Draft of the Urgency Ordinance

Also this - NVR 11/10/17: Fire rebuilding challenges availability of Napa area contractors

How To Help a Friend Who Lost Their Home in a Fire

NV2050 Admin - Nov 7, 2017 6:29PM  Share #1797

For all of us who witnessed the devastation of the North Bay Fires last month, it was kindness from those near and far, friends and strangers, that created beauty in the midst of ugliness and healing in the midst of despair.

KQED News shares this insightful piece written by Carolynn Spezza, who lost her home to the 2015 Valley Fire:

How To Help a Friend Who Lost Their Home in a Fire

Carolyn offers 15 tips to those longing to support friends or loved ones navigating the treacherous path of rebuilding a life after home loss.

Among these ideas, we hope you find a way of reaching out that feels meaningful.

Debris Management & Rebuilding Informational Meeting

Barbara Guggia - Nov 1, 2017 2:26PM  Share #1795

Greetings to Soda Canyon Neighbors & Friends:

I attended the meeting at the Silverado Country Club on 10/30 and felt it was a worthwhile, with reps from FEMA, Army Corp of Engineers, EPA, Fire, Bill Dodd, and Napa County Planning Department in attendance. It appeared there were close to 300 people at the meeting and I had to wonder how they were all notified. Without the email from Anne, I would not have known at all about the meeting. Thanks Anne!
Reps from each agency made a brief presentation, with staff from these agencies available to answer individual questions afterwards.
Main points:

  • If you are considering using the the Government Removal program, you need to fill out the paperwork ASAP. Army Corp of Engineers is lining up private contractors to do the work. Whether or not this program is right for you depends on your personal situation and insurance policy. The head FEMA rep said there was confusion regarding the program and explained how it worked. It made more sense to me after he explained it, so if you need clarification, call and ask questions.
  • If you are using a private contractor for debris removal and wondering where the hazardous waste, ash, and other materials will go, this wasn’t answered. FEMA said they are still working with landfills to figure this out.
  • Napa County Planning Department has set-up a Special Building Permit Center dedicated to homeowners who want to rebuild. There will be three full-time staff to help with developing the simplest process and fastest building permit process for rebuilders. The center is in the basement of the admin building at 3rd & Coombs. Phone number: 707.299.1350 Vincent Smith of the Planning Department appears to be the one in charge.
  • Throughout the meeting, all the officials emphasized how supportive and helpful the county and government agencies were going to be regarding rebuilding process. Some of the quotes I heard…"flexible, we will get out the way, we will be your advocate, quick process, simple process, we are here to help you through the process”…etc. David Morrison said “our goal is to move you into your home as quickly as possible” and Bill Dodd offered to “be your advocate” if needed.
  • EPA is inspecting all homes that were damaged and should be done soon. Debris removal permits will be issued within 24 hours of being filed.
  • The fire could have possibly damaged home foundations, the concrete and steel. foundations should be tested.
  • Bob Fenton from FEMA reported that 200 staff members from his department are here to help and said in his presentation that he acknowledges “the need to protect watersheds”, which is very encouraging.
  • After the meeting, AP and his wife Brenda were hosting a wine reception on the deck outside of the ballroom.

County recovery documents updated

Bill Hocker - Oct 28, 2017 10:30AM  Share #1773

Sup. Pedroza sent out a couple of documents about programs that the county is undertaking to help with the recovery process. I will add more at the top of this page when I find them.

Potential property tax-reduction notice
Final Household Hazardous Waste Removal & Debris Removal Program with forms

Dan McFadden - Oct 26, 2017 11:58AM

I have downloaded and read carefully the Right-of-Entry (ROE) form requested by before they will initiate hazardous waste removal. This ROE form does not differentiate between Phase 1 (no-cost hazardous waste removal) and Phase 2 (debris removal). Supervisor Pedrosa circulated the "Hazardous Waste & Debris Removal Fact Sheet, Issued 10/18/17" that states that owners will have two options in Phase 2, either debris removal by the county (Option 1) or by a private contractor (Option 2). However, the ROE appears to give the county an unrestricted right to exercise Option 1 in Phase 2. The ROE under Phase 2, Option 1 seems to give the county virtually full control over what happens to your site, including things like bulldozing retaining walls and foundations of historical buildings, gives them the right to leave behind for you to deal with anything that they choose, and gives them the right to bill you and your insurer for all of their Phase 2 work, with no announced timetable or fees. My reading of the terms is that there is no public subsidy for Phase 2 for owners who have fire insurance, and my claims adjuster stated that charges for debris removal by county-sponsored contractors usually equal or exceed the allowance in your policy for debris removal.

To put it mildly, this legal document does not appear to have been drawn up for the benefit of residents burned out by the fire. I will not sign it, and instead will ask for a ROE document that covers Phase 1 only. I encourage you to read the current ROE carefully before signing.

Fire feedback to the BOS

Gary Margadant - Oct 27, 2017 9:41AM  Share #1791

Mt Veeder Neighbors

Napa County Planning and Building Dept is organizing a forum for feedback on Building Permits procedures during the Rebuilding Phase after the NAPA FIRES. Essentially to: how the County can adjust the Napa County processes to best address the needs of the property owners while continuing to protect the health and welfare of the community as a whole. (see below)

If you Cannot Attend, Please forward any feedback on your observations and desires for change in the processes, Directly to Vin Smith: .
If you want to forward any of your ideas to me, I will be more than happy to pass them on to Vin and his PBES colleagues.

FUTURE ITEM for the Board of Supervisors (BOS) concerns, but they might be yours also...our FEEDBACK on the Emergency Response, Community Notification, Priorities and Coordination during the Fire Storms by Napa County and their Emergency Services. Many thanks to First Responders who risked their lives to save our homes and forest, thanks to them and extraordinary neighbors who stepped up.

This is a Feedback loop that needs to be discussed in a similar forum or as an Agenda Item on the BOS Agenda.

1. Nixle messages missing during the first 24 hours...Attributable to the loss of Cell phone towers in the initial hours, but a missed scenario by the Emergency Coordinators.

2. No backup for 1, including the use of Social Media: Facebook, Next Door, twitter, Text, etc. Missed opportunities in the emergency scenarios and emergency protocols: SM was not used.

3. Land Use Priorities for Access. Residents were on the bottom of the priority list and this must change. Ag operations were allowed in, with permit, during the Mandatory Evacuation to tend to their investments (vineyards, grapes), but home owners were not allowed to enter to check their water sources, tanks and water lines in preparation for a return. Workers who do not live on the mountain were allowed in, but those who's home was their major investment/wealth were not allowed in to attend to their investment. Granted, some residents were allowed in for Animal Welfare, but all were not accorded the same investment privileges as Ag operations. THIS HAS TO CHANGE. There is more $$ invested in homes on the hill than commercial operations, so why the priority disconnect?

4. Residents watched as Bicyclists were allowed into the area yet they were not. (This is an odd one, but there is no reason strangers w/o Local ID, were allowed in for Recreation??

5. The BOS needs to tackle Feedback from Residents as a positive to adjusting their emergency response protocols for future events. The board recognizes 4 major events in the last 4 years: Earthquake, Fire, Rain Storm and....that needed major emergency response.... I suggested Response Drills after the Earthquake, but these suggestions never materialized into any concerted actions by the Board and Response Agencies.

WRITE your supervisor and request a forum for Feedback and Response Protocol changes in light of recent problems/failures. We have to learn from the past to better the future.

Send me your ideas and I will carry them to the BOS..

Best Regards, Gary

County stakeholder fire loss meeting

Bill Hocker - Oct 26, 2017 5:20PM  Share #1788

MEETING CANCELLED - to be rescheduled

County Planning Manager Vin Smith writes:

Good afternoon to all,

The fires were a horrific and unprecedented event and we are truly moved by the devastation but more so the unbelievably strong positive community response. I can say that county staff confronted the events to assist in the immediate emergency needs of the community, and quickly went to work to address the community needs during the rebuilding phase which is ongoing. As such, the Building Official and I are hosting a Stakeholders Meeting next Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at 2pm in the Board of Supervisors Board Room (where the public meetings take place) to provide an update on our ideas and efforts to simplify the rebuilding process and to exchange ideas about moving forward. We will give a short presentation and have handouts, as well as website links, for your use in communicating with those who have suffered property loss. We will also have draft concepts or “Scenarios” to present to you on how the County can adjust its processes to best address the needs of the property owners while continuing to protect the health and welfare of the community as a whole. We are on a tight schedule to get ordinance changes to the Board of Supervisors on November 21st, so we hope that you can process the contents of these handouts and provide feedback at this meeting.

Thank you to all who have assisted and supported the county efforts since October 8th. I look forward to working with you on rebuilding our community.

Vin Smith
Planning Manager
County of Napa
707-259-5934 direct

Fire Stories

Bill Hocker - Oct 26, 2017 11:52AM  Share #1786

NVR 11/3/17: Napa family with special needs begins long road to recovery (Chris Malan's Family)

NVR 10/29/17: One resident helps Napa's besieged Circle Oaks neighborhood survive the Atlas Fire (Larry Carr and Lisa Hirayama)

NVR 10/26/17: Napa artists cite the 'miracles' that saved them in the fires (Ed and Kristi Grant)

Ed Grants' account of his escape from the fire on Soda Canyon is THE cautionary tale that residents have been presenting as the county has endevoured to encourage more tourism up the road with the development of of The Caves and Relic wineries and the proposal of the Mountain Peak winery. In the first hours of the fire, a fallen tree blocked the exit down the canyon. What may be an acceptable risk to residents, much like the agricultural hazards we must sign off on when paying property taxes, becomes an unacceptable risk to uninformed tourists and raises ethical and legal questions for the county government that approves such activity.

Post fire assessments and debris removal

Barbara Guggia - Oct 25, 2017 10:08PM  Share #1784

Steve [Chilton] spoke with Kelly Gin of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and in addition to providing online information (brochures also available at their information table @LAC) regarding post fire restoration, her office can do post fire property assessments (free of charge). An assessment would provide information about stabilizing the soil, removing dead material and identifying proper seed mix. The assessment should come in handy for insurance purposes. In addition to information, her agency might also be able to provide grants to agricultural properties impacted by the fire. There may be funding for nonagricultural properties for clean up and rehabilitation. We are hoping to get her out to Soda Canyon this week and if you would like her to visit your property, please call her as soon as possible at:

Kelly Gin-707.252.4189 ext. 3114.

We also spoke with someone at the Planning Department (Neil @ the LAC) and through the county, the California Dept of Emergency Services can provide debris and burnt vegetation removal. We don’t have all the details regarding when or how this would happen but this is something worth looking into.

Diane Shepp - Oct 20, 2017 1:04PM  Share #1776

Something for current Grand Jury:

SF Chronicle 10/13/17: 3 counties hit by wildfires warned long ago about staffing, infrastructure

The development rush

Barbara Guggia - Oct 19, 2017 4:04PM  Share #1762

SJ Mercury News 10/18/17: Governor Brown issues order to speed up Wine Country fire recovery efforts

I know we are all focused on survival and just trying to get back to our homes and maintaining some kind of sanity as we address all the problems related to this incident. However, if we do not remain diligent regarding environmental issues, I’m afriad the "powers that be" will try to get back to “business as usual” and sneak through more winery proposals as we just try to get our lives back together. Of particular concern is that the county might put into play “shortcuts” to allegedly help fire victims, which will also help wineries and other ag businesses to shortcut the process and get their proposals approved without proper public notification, vetting, and community input.

Is the Planning Commission is still having meetings? How convient if all the “usual suspects” that show up and voice their opinions are now just trying to figure out how to repair their homes or working with insurance companies to deal with the loss of their burned out home.

What have other counties done regarding planning issues following a major disaster ? Oakland fire…Lake County fire…Santa Rosa...Did they have a moratorium on building/variance/modification permits?

This is such a %#$*!#! mess in so many ways.

Glenn J. Schreuder - Oct 19, 2017 11:22PM

At this point it should be abundantly clear to all that upper Soda Canyon and places like it aren't a really great place for the uninformed, out-of town tourist to be hanging out on a hot, dry, windy day.

Not good place for the tourist, not a good situation for local residents.

Tourists belong on and near the Valley floor where they have ready access to emergency services.

We've been saying this all the while, and it turns out the concerns we raised regarding the issues of access, fire safety and the like were not only 100% valid but painfully accurate.

Anne Palotas - Oct 19, 2017 5:06PM

This is a big concern!

Already in the news (TV- yesterday?) Jerry Brown has made it so that the "Wine Industry" can get immediate and easily granted variances on re-locating tasting rooms and production facilities that have been affected by fire. There was some other very negative things mentioned which escape me right now. Could this have been championed by Bill Dodd?

Glenn J. Schreuder - Oct 19, 2017 4:20PM

Residential rebuilds need to be the top priority for the Planning department for the foreseeable future. Glenn

Toxic waste cleanup

Gary Margadant - Oct 19, 2017 2:23PM  Share #1757

SR Press Democrat 10/17/17: U.S. EPA to oversee toxics cleanup after fires in Sonoma and Napa counties
Household Hazardous Waste Removal & Debris Removal Program

Here is something I put together about Milliken Reservoir and the Runoff from the Sill Winery that was destroyed in the fire. The runoff from the winery will make it into Milliken Creek @ 2929 APR, above the intake to the City of Napa Water System. If the rains come before CalRecycle can clean up the mess, then the Napa River Water Quality and Wildlife is certainly going to suffer.

Sill must not be allowed to try and clean up the mess himself unless he has the approval of State Cleanup Officials. So we need to closely follow his activity at the Winery.

The contamination is not limited to destroyed Wineries, but also Ag Buildings, homes, etc. anything that might store toxic materials (even wine that leaks out into the watersheds).

We need to find and document these structures so we can follow the activity of owners, residents and Lead Cleanup Agencies.

DO YOU KNOW of any such structures???? Send me a note (but do NOT reply to all).

The tourism push

Shepherd Bliss - Oct 19, 2017 4:19AM  Share #1751

[Sent along by Charlotte Williams]

I just posted the following thread on in response to an email about tourism. Please consider joining this discussion. It would be helpful to hear from Napa people and to promote pending events and experiences related to tourism.

Insurance claims

Yeoryios Apallas - Oct 18, 2017 7:40PM  Share #1746

Here is a website that can be useful to our Soda Canyon friends who may have fire insurance claims. It is run by a citizens’ advocacy group and has insider tips on how to handle a claim. Bill you may want to post it on the website. I will also email it to our constituent groups and Napa Vision 2050

SCR photos

Amber Manfree - Oct 16, 2017 1:56PM  Share #1720

Here is a link to a Google Drive folder with photos I've taken this past week. Mainly for reference; if you distribute them to press or post them online please credit me and be considerate if someone's home is depicted. Also some individual photos below.

Fire in the Mayacamas

Fire in the Mayacamas

Post fire issues

John Regan - Oct 15, 2017 7:16PM  Share #1712

I suggest that we either use this page or start a new one related to rebuilding and insurance efforts. We are the family that lost the house on Loma Vista in 2011 and unfortunately are very experienced in the fire insurance claim process, so hopefully this time will be less daunting.
We can all expect that once the road access is granted, we will all be visited by:
1) Looters or spectators
2) Insurance adjusters looking for clients
3) Insurance company representives

We learned a great deal during those two years and it will be invaluable to have a site to share information, problems and recs. Happy to share what we learned and share information as we go through it again; we'll all need a forum (this page or another on to accomplish this. If anyone has specific questions I can be reached at 415-310-3245.

Good luck to everyone with the early stages of recovery!

John Regan
Kim Regan
1029 Loma Vista

Fault lines

Bill Hocker - Oct 12, 2017 2:52PM  Share #1666

Steve Schneider sends this post:
It is hard to believe that this tragedy keeps on burning. Our hearts continue to go out to all of you.

Perhaps you may be able to recover some from PG&E?

I don’t know if you saw this news but it appears that the cause of the fire may have been downed power lines or blown transformers.

If PG&E was negligent, like they were in the San Bruno gas explosion disaster, all affected may be able to recover - your group may have another cause to promote, this time with attorneys who undoubtedly would take it on on contingency so you don’t have to pay them upfront.

Just a thought, trying to be helpful.

SF Business Times 10/12/17: PG&E power lines may have provided key spark to North Bay inferno

I will probably end up in the minority opinion on this but PG&E has a lot more potential hazards to deal with than it humanly possible to control, especially given the unwillingness of rate payers to fund the enormous infrastructure costs to build a fail safe system. Every power line in the state has trees growing around it. Pruning them all or cutting them all down is not an option. And even if they did an earthquake might knock them down. I would like to see all the lines underground, but in our neighborhood you can't find anyone willing to spend several thousand dollars each to make it happen. Even that amount of money probably doesn't come close to the actual cost of under-grounding. I think that PG&E does a good job given the amounts of money we are willing to pay. In certain situations they may be negligent, but not making every line in their territory wind and tree-proofed is not negligence

Shelle Wolfe - Oct 17, 2017 11:45PM

I agree Bill... Thanks :)

Bill Hocker - Oct 12, 2017 3:04PM

Roland Dumas writes:
Be careful about making causal attributions at this stage. PG&E may not be the most responsible player, but not enough information to know if a fire took out power or power malfunction caused fire.

With many fires, there may be common cause, independent, chain reaction, etc. We could have an arsonist(s), which is not a remote possibility.

The fires will have an environmental impact, to be sure. While we are waiting for the forensics, we can start contemplating the larger impact, and the impact on the various initiatives. Saving a watershed that just burned down will take some re-thinking. Saving Skyline park from development may be a different game. We have some thinking and re-strategizing to do.

The preservationist community really needs to begin thinking about the new world order in the county that will come from developers wanting to take advantage of every square inch of newly cleared land and of a county desperate for development fees and growth to the economy to offset the loss of tourism money, and the desire to give any concession to get the tourism industry back on track. The vineyard development industry is also newly empowered. Unfortunately, It's just been proven that the carbon sequestered in forests is much more volatile and less justifiable than that sequestered in vines.

George Caloyannidis - Oct 12, 2017 2:57PM

Dear Friends and Supervisors;

I heard a man who lived on Atlas Peak being interviewed some days ago who said that he experienced a momentary power outage. The power came back and then went out. Immediately thereafter the fires began.

There is no doubt in my mind that at least this particular fire was caused by PG&E failure to maintain power lines, power poles and surrounding trees.
The situation on Diamond Mountain Road where we live is equally dismal. Crooked power poles, sagging powers lines - some not being repaired after repeated requests and hundreds of trees threatening power lines. They need to be removed for obvious safety reasons.

About 6 months ago, a large oak tree branch fell and snapped a power line about 200 feet from the intersection to Hwy 29. We were lucky at that time.

To this day, a Comcast cable has been dragged down to the ground by a falling tree for at least 3 months now but has not severed. It is still in this condition and it is dragging the two anchor PG&E power poles in tension and despite notices, no one has cared to repair it. It is a new disaster waiting to happen.

The PG@E electrical infrastructure in the mountains is that of a 3rd world country.

I am sure when the dust settles, we will find that they are the culprit of at least the Atlas Peak fire.

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