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Kincade Fire contained in North Bay

Two-week blaze concludes as state’s largest fire of 2019

The burnt frames of destroyed homes, with the charred remains of a fireplace in the center of the frame. Photo by PHILIP PACHECO/AFP via Getty Images

On Wednesday, Cal Fire announced that the Kincade Fire was fully contained, ushering in a conclusion to the Bay Area’s latest and largest wildfire of 2019.

At the final count, the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County had swelled to more than 77,700 acres in the two weeks since it began under still ambiguous circumstances on the night of October 23.

In all, the fire destroyed 374 buildings by the latest Cal Fire count, including 174 homes.

But it could have been much worse; at one point the state’s anti-wildfire agency warned that as many as 80,000 homes lay in the fire’s potential path of destruction as it skirted the edges of Santa Rosa, still devastated from firestorms in 2017.

There are still no reported casualties from the Kincade Fire, although four firefighters suffered injuries while responding to the blaze.

Containment means that fire crews have completely surrounded the perimeter of the burning area with fire lines. However, it’s still possible for a fire to continue to spread even after being contained, particularly if assisted by high winds that may blow burning material across firebreaks.

This is a rare occurrence though, and in most cases containment marks the end of a wildfire’s campaign, although actually extinguishing the blaze and cleaning up in its aftermath will take weeks or months.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Pacific Gas and Electric Company acknowledged in October that some of its power lines malfunctioned in the area around where the fire started at just about the same time, but it will be months before Cal Fire completes its official investigation about the origins of the conflagration.

Thus far the Kincade Fire is the largest wildfire Cal Fire records for 2019, more than 23,000 acres bigger than the Walker Fire in Plumas County in September, and more than five times the size of the Tucker Fire in Modoc County in July.