Atlas Fire Timeline From the Berryessa Highlands

By Evan Kilkus

Monday (October 9): As seen with a telephoto lens at 9:30 AM from the top of the ridge at the south end of the Berryessa Highlands, the fire that had started on Atlas Peak the night before was burning all the way south far past Hwy 121, and creeping downhill into Wooden Valley (top photo), and the North East/corner of the fire was two ridges or about three miles away from Capell Valley (bottom photo).

Plume 1


Tuesday (October 10):  The day started smoky and got worse as time went on. Winds had shifted towards the Highlands. By 3:30 PM the smoke was more intense as the fire began to enter the hills above the R-Ranch and Capell Valley (top photo).  By 6PM that night the fire was all throughout Capell Valley, right above Circle Oaks, and had reached the top of the hill just above Steele Canyon, about 1 mile from the Highlands neighborhood.  By 9:30 PM the wind had shifted back away from the neighborhood so the fire seemed to just stop at the top of the ridge (bottom photo).

Capell RRanch
Fire on ridge


Wednesday (October 11):  Morning broke and the fire had only crept part of the way down the hill. An afternoon pounding of water from helicopters and fire retardant from planes was a sign that firefighters were taking a stand, and they were not going to let the fire go any farther. Check out the video of all the aircraft fighting the fire below.

Creeping firre
Supertanker Berryessa  edited-2
Smoke and retardant


Thursday (October 12): At this point bulldozer crews had spent 2 days building large back-up fire breaks (middle photo), while small amounts of fire were still burning within the planned containment lines, all less than 1 mile from the neighborhood (bottom photo).

Fire from Highlands 3-30 PM Thursday edited-1
smoke close neighbor


Friday thru Monday: By this point all active firefighting was wrapping up, but areas were still burning within the firelines. While firefighters cut hand lines and put out the hot spots, PG&E crews fixed power lines along the roads, and road crews cleared burned and damaged trees from along the roads. Residents were allowed home to all neighborhoods on Monday. Crews spent one additional week bringing containment to 100%.

**********                       © Peter Kilkus 2020