Sonoma County Shifts Evacuation Strategy Amid Pandemic

Over in Napa County, authorities are finding as many shelter locations as possible as fires force evacuations so that people can be inside and socially distant.

But Sonoma County is adopting a different strategy, with no evacuation shelters at all.

Instead, “they call them a temporary evacuation point,” explained Sonoma County Fairgrounds CEO Becky Bartlin.

"People are directed to go to that location and they have somebody there that will work with you to figure out if there’s an alternate location you can go to or possibly get you a hotel room."

This way, the county hopes to avoid having groups of evacuees sheltering together.

The first night of evacuations, there were several throughout the county, but now there is just one at the fairgrounds’ West Grace Pavilion.

The Fairgrounds has served as a refuge for thousands of evacuees in many past wildfires and is typically one of the largest shelters in the county. But this year, while they are welcoming evacuees, those people will quickly be sent on to somewhere where they can shelter away from others.

"I want to make it very clear we are not a shelter for people," said Bartlin.

The only evacuees staying at the fairgrounds for now are large animals.