In what is possibly the largest evacuation in California history, 180,000 people are under mandatory evacuation from areas throughout the North Bay. At a press conference conducted by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Sonoma County’s Sheriff Mark Essick addressed concerns that the extent of the evacuations might be overkill.
“Although I’ve heard some people express concerns that we were evacuating too many people, I think those concerns are not valid at this point,” said the sheriff, who reminded that there is still a significant danger to anybody who’s still in the Healdsburg, Windsor, and the unincorporated areas around Windsor. “If you were in those areas now we still encouraged you to get out. We have deputies and peace officers in your neighborhoods. They can assist you.”
Of concern to many evacuees is the prospect of looters taking advantage of the situation, which the sheriff also addressed.
“We will not tolerate it,” he said. “That’s why we have so many peace officers in your neighborhoods to protect your property.”
According to the sheriff, there are presently 262 police officers in the field whose efforts are being supplemented by the national guard.
“We are using our peace officers and the national guard to maintain checkpoints for evacuation areas. And we’re also having that strong police presence there to really assure people that if they have evacuated their property, their homes would be safe,” the sheriff said. He also added that his department had not yet received any reports of looting and emphasized that they are taking an “aggressive standpoint on looting.”
10 zones are currently being mandated to evacuate—these include:
Geyserville, Knights Valley, Healdsburg and Windsor, Dry Creek Valley, Mark West, Larkfield, Wikiup, parts of Santa Rosa that include Fountaingrove, Oakmont, Rincon Valley, Coffey Park, and those areas north of Guerneville Road, Steele Lane, Ludwig Avenue. Forestville, Guerneville, Duncans Mills, Jenner, Bodega Bay, Occidental, Sebastopol, and Valley Ford are also under mandatory evacuation.
Sheriff Essick asked that people not call 911 for their non-emergency information needs. He encouraged people to call the information line at 211 or use SoCo Alert and Nixle as well as the sheriff department’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“The sheriff’s office has been servicing the county for 170 years. This is our strongest moment now. Our staff are out there, they’re ready to go and they’re here to serve you,” he said.