Kincade Fire: As winds calm, firefighters work to strengthen containment lines

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SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) -- Crews battling the massive Kincade Fire took advantage of calm winds on Monday to focus on mopping up hot spots and strengthening containment lines before the weather turned again.

“This is our one chance to kind of get a leg up on things so we’re trying to do the best we can to take advantage of that,” Cal Fire spokesman Rhett Pratt said. “Anything that could be smoldering we want to make sure it’s completely out so that if the wind does pick up like it’s projected again, it doesn’t start back up and cause the fire to cross the street.”

Helicopters made water drops from above as ground crews mopped up.

“This is still the front line of the fire. There’s lots of burning material still here. It’s just not whipped up into a large flame with the wind,” Pratt said.

“It’s just devastating,” neighbor Terry Ott said. “We seen the glow and then all of a sudden the flames were coming over the mountain. The house went up. We were here trying to fight it but the smoke was so thick we couldn’t see, could hardly breathe.”

Ott tried to save his uncle’s house as the fire overtook it Sunday night. It was still smoldering the next day.

“They’ll rebuild. It’s just heartbreaking for them to lose everything. I couldn’t imagine,” Ott said.

The latest numbers from Cal Fire on Monday afternoon showed at least 96 buildings destroyed. But crews hoped the work done Monday will give them a better shot at saving Sonoma County.

“We’re dealing with a very strong force of nature that could have been much, much worse than it was,” Pratt said.

Family farm saved

The Kincade Fire doubled in size from Friday night to Monday morning, burning a path roughly the size of Reno right through communities like Windsor and properties like Fieldstone Farm.

“This was fully engulfed here, and they had fire engines all over the place,” Fieldstone owner Gil Labrucherie said.

The hay-filled barn, a fenced-in area, and some trees all went up in flames.

“And then the fire got in the creek, came down the creek, kept right on going down all the way around the bottom,” Labrucherie said.

Hours later, the glow of the flames could still be seen and the crackling of the hay burning could still be heard. In the light of day, what Labrucherie focused on was not what was lost, but what remained.

“I’m just thankful that it’s as little as it is,” he told FOX40.

Labrucherie and his family have owned and operated Fieldstone Farm for over 20 years. They had to move 50 horses from their equestrian center Sunday afternoon when the mandatory evacuation order came down.

They spent most of the evening fearing all was lost.

“This had been a life work for my daughter, she’s just 38, she's been at it since a teenager,” Labrucherie said. “She took it hard last night.”

But Monday morning revealed the result of the hours-long stand by the Beverly Hills Fire Department – up from Southern California to help with the firefight. Not just all the animals, and people, but most of the property of Fieldstone Farm was left intact.

"Safe and happy," said Labrucherie.

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