At least 42 people have lost their lives and another 90 are missing in Northern California’s ongoing rash of fires, the deadliest in the state’s history. But the end appears to be coming soon. “Full containment of all the fires is expected Friday,” Cal Fire Incident Cmdr. Bret Gouvea said today (Wednesday).

Fighting the fires have been 1,100 firefighters, a number of them arriving from other states and from as far away as Canada and Australia.

Some 200 to 250 homes have been lost in Mendocino County fires, State Sen. Mike McGuire told KWMR yesterday (Tuesday). Another 100 to 130 homes were lost in Lake County, he added.

More than 3,000 homes and businesses were lost in Santa Rosa’s inferno but only one fire station.

In all of Sonoma County, 21,000 acres have burned, and 75,000 people were evacuated. Four Marin County firefighters lost homes in the fires, as did another six Marin County employees, Supervisor Dennis Rodoni said on KWMR Monday.

As of yesterday, 36,000 of Sonoma County’s evacuees were being allowed to return home.

When the evacuations began Oct. 9, hundreds of Sonoma County and Napa County residents headed for Marin County. More than 200 people were in and out of the Dance Palace, with 80 sleeping there that first night. Another 20 spent the night sleeping in their cars nearby, so they could be with their pets. 

The evacuees’ love for their pets was epitomized in this widely circulated photograph of Lauren Mesaros of Santa Rosa escaping the fire with her pony Stardust in the backseat.

On Tuesday, Oct 10, most of those at the Dance Palace relocated to Marconi Conference Center in Marshall. The Dance Palace, however, continued to provide some of their food. The conference center, which is officially an emergency shelter within the Point Reyes Disaster Council plan, provided beds for about 120 people Tuesday night.

San Geronimo Valley Community Center meanwhile provided shelter for 35. Tomales Bay Resort (the former Golden Hinde) took in 80 or so.

In all, 500 evacuees were sheltered in West Marin, many of them in private homes. Dillon Beach homeowners were impressively forthcoming. Last weekend, about 231 evacuees were estimated to have found beds in Dillon Beach homes, and more than 135 received campsites in the town’s campground, Lawson’s Landing.

The numbers in all locations in West Marin fluctuated as evacuees would leave in the day to check on their homes up north. Many would return, but as the week progressed more were able to go back to their homes because the air quality improved or they would relocate to shelters nearer their homes or former homes.  

Dry conditions and high winds that, according to Sen. McGuire, gusted to 79 mph so far are getting much of blame for the fires, but wind damage to power lines is also being cited. Yesterday a Santa Rosa couple filed the first lawsuit against PG&E.

Not yet getting much attention is the fire’s likely effects on landfills in the area. There will be so much debris, State Sen. McGuire predicted, that it will add “over a decade’s worth of garbage into the landfills.”