Berryessa starts phased reopening after deadly wildfire

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By Todd R. Hansen
McNaughton Media

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Friday began the official phased reopening of Lake Berryessa.

The lake and its resorts have been closed to the public since the start of the LNU Lightning Fire Complex in mid-August.

“We fully understand and empathize with the local community’s desire to return to a sense of normalcy after such a devastating event,” Regional Director Ernest Conant said in a statement released Friday. “We appreciate the public’s patience as reclamation staff works hard to safely provide full access to our Lake Berryessa recreation areas again.”

Visitors are required to follow Covid-related guidance from Napa County and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The phased reopening started with concession-operated facilities.

“Access to boats in slips, boat rentals and boat launching will be opened at Pleasure Cove, Spanish Flat, Steele Canyon and Putah Canyon recreation areas,” the reclamation statement said.

Many of those facilities were damage in the fire, so they will not be fully operational until further notice.

The LNU Lightning Complex Fire that started early Aug. 17 in rural Napa County and ultimately surrounded Lake Berryessa. Officials closed off access to the lake the next day.

Several smaller fires soon merged into the Hennessey Fire, the largest fire within the complex, which raced into Solano County late Aug. 18 and early Aug. 19 and forced thousands of people to flee from the homes. Two people were killed by the fire in rural Vacaville. Another three people died in the fire in Napa County.

The LNU Lightning Complex Fire burned more than 567.53 square miles (363,220 acres) across portions of Solano, Napa, Yolo, Colusa, Sonoma and Lake counties. It currently ranks as the fourth-largest wildfire in the state’s modern era. A total of 65.62 square miles (42,000 acres) burned in rural Solano County before firefighters stopped it near the city limits of Vacaville and Fairfield.

Reclamation-operated facilities will reopen Saturday, including South Oak Shores and Eticuera day-use areas, the Capell Cove boat launch and the Pope Bridge parking lot.

Camping and cabins at concession-operated facilities will take visitors Oct. 30. For reservations visit:

• Markley Cove, 289-8068, www.markleycove.com.
• Pleasure Cove Marina, 966-9600, www.goberryessa.com.
• Steele Canyon Recreation Area, 800-709-7814, www.lakeberryessacampgrounds.com.
• Spanish Flat Recreation Area, 966-0200, www.spanishflatcamping.com.
• Putah Canyon Recreation Area, 966-9051, www.californiasbestcamping.com/sonoma/putah.html.
• Berryessa Boat and Jet Ski Rental, 966-4204, www.lakeberryessaboats.com.

Phone capabilities for the Lake Berryessa field office and the concession-operated facilities are limited due to fire damage. For current information, call 287-2363 or send an email to nkyle@usbr.gov.

More information can be found at www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/berryessa/index.html.

*Glen Faison contributed to this report.

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