Travel Alert: Hilton Hotel Burns Down; Waivers Issued by Airlines Due to Wildfires; Boeing 747 Used to Drop Fire Retardant

“I wanna know have you ever seen the rain” is what John Fogerty — whom I saw live in concert back in the spring of 2015 — asks in the song Have You Ever Seen The Rain back in 1971.

Travel Alert: Hilton Hotel Burns Down; Waivers Issued by Airlines Due to Wildfires; Boeing 747 Used to Drop Fire Retardant

Fogerty — who was born in Berkeley in California and co-founded Creedence Clearwater Revival in El Cerrito — might not have imagined how this song could relate to the horrific wildfires which have plagued much of Sonoma wine country north of the San Francisco Bay area in recent days. At least ten fatalities have been confirmed; greater than 100 people are currently missing; at least 1,500 structures are destroyed; thousands of people were forced to evacuate; and a minimum of 65,000 acres of land are already scorched. Entire neighborhoods are gone, with little more than smoke and burnt trees remaining; and many major thoroughfares — such as United States Highway 101 — are already closed to traffic. Power and gas is out in many areas.

If Napa Valley, Santa Rosa and Sonoma and other areas especially north of the greater San Francisco Bay area are in your travel plans over the next few weeks, you may want to consider delaying your travel — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to the weather — as wildfires continue to rage out of control.

The National Weather Service had issued a red flag warning for the North Bay area.

Mike Nicco — who is a meteorologist at KGO-TV Channel 7 News in San Francisco — posted plenty of photographs of structures burning down to the ground as well as dire warnings: “Document everything you own with pictures and video now. By time to evacuate it’s too late.

San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Fremont, Sausalito, Monterey and San Jose appear to be unaffected — for now, anyway. Other areas surrounding the greater San Francisco Bay area are at a risk for high fire danger.

The Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel property appears to continue to burn and will likely be a total loss. A message in pink at the top of the official Internet web site of the hotel property proclaims that “The hotel is temporarily closed due to area wildfires. Please contact info@atriumhospitality.com with questions.”

When the hotel property will open again to guests is unknown at this time. At least one other hotel property — as well as several wineries — also have burned to the ground beyond repair.

The source of the wildfires is still unknown at this time.

If all of this was not bad enough, the epicenter of an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.1 on the Richter scale which occurred at 5:53 in the afternoon Pacific Daylight Time on Monday, October 9, 2017 was located 14 kilometers east southeast of Alum Rock, which is east of San Jose.

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to Santa Rosa and some of the aforementioned areas, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to the wildfires which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary. If you are driving in any of these areas, watch out for deteriorating weather conditions due to thick smoke and traffic problems — including road closures.

Here are three airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of this winter weather system:

  • Alaska Airlines has issued a travel alert for Santa Rosa for Monday, October 9, 2017 through Wednesday, October 11; and Sunday, October 15, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • American Airlines has issued a travel alert for Santa Rosa for Monday, October 9, 2017 through Tuesday, October 10; and Friday, October 13, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • United Airlines has issued a travel alert for Santa Rosa for Monday, October 9, 2017 through Tuesday, October 10; and Friday, October 13, 2017 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.

Summary

Expect the travel waivers to possibly not only be expanded in terms of duration; but also issued by additional airlines, as the wildfires are not expected to be completely under control over the next day or two. No rain is in the forecast for at least the next seven days for the areas affected by the wildfires; but temperatures are expected to cool down as humidity increases, which should be of some help to the firefighting efforts — which includes the use of a Boeing 747 airplane to drop fire retardant.

Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

In the meantime, these wildfires remind me of the ones which devastated Fort MacMurray during May of 2016; and my thoughts and prayers are with the people in the greater San Francisco Bay area — especially in the North Bay area — as I hope that corporate entities will assist them as WestJet did with the residents and businesspeople of Fort MacMurray…

Not much is left of the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel property after it burned down from wildfires. Source: KGO-TV Channel 7 News San Francisco.

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