The LNU Lightning Complex Fire has already burned more than 350,000 acres in Northern California as firefighters continue working to contain the multiple wildfires that make up the incident. The various fires have affected communities in Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Yolo, and Solano counties. Executive Director of the Sonoma County Fam Bureau, Tawny Tesconi explained that the timing of the fires caught producers a bit off guard.
“I think vineyard owners were hopeful and thankful that we had an early harvest and that we would stay out of the fire zone. But low and behold, lightning struck,” Tesconi noted. “There was a lot of guys that are just about ready to pick or already started picking the grape harvest. That’s made for some need to be very cooperative and work very closely with our sheriff’s department and our county to get access to some of these evacuation areas. So, we’ve been working on that.”
As of Wednesday morning, the LNU Lightning Complex Fire is 33 percent contained. Tesconi said that mother nature has been somewhat cooperative in recent days, with manageable winds and a break in the high temperatures. Producers have been working through various mandatory evacuation orders and warnings to accomplish what they need to on their farms. “We’ve been trying to get our farmers into those areas so that they can harvest and even do things like turn on generators, irrigate and everything like that,” Tesconi explained.
While the LNU Lightning Complex Fire has created challenges for grape growers in the area, livestock producers have also been working to overcome challenges. The fires have burned through rangelands and destroyed miles of fencing. Tesconi pointed out that the logistical challenges for livestock producers can be particularly difficult during wildfires. Groups in the area have been working to assist with livestock evacuations, but that is not always feasible in some instances.
“I know a lot of people think about evacuation but there’s just certain famers and certain range animals and things like that that you really cannot get evacuated in a fire like this,” said Tesconi. “Some of our bigger commercial guys, whether you’ve got 400-500 head of beef cattle on 2,000 acres or you’ve got 700 dairy cows on a farm, it’s really hard to evacuate those animals.”
Listen to Tesconi’s interview below.