10 killed, thousands evacuated in California’s wine country wildfires

Deadly wildfires roared across California wine country Monday, killing at least 10 people, injuring numerous others, and torching more than 2,000 homes and businesses.

The California authorities report that, Ten people have died and the number is expected to grow, More than 100 people were being treated at Napa- and Sonoma-area hospitals for fire-related injuries or health issues including burns, smoke inhalation and shortness of breath.

“An estimated 1,500 structures have been destroyed and 57,000 acres burned in eight counties.” A wildfire in Anaheim, in Southern California, has spread to 4,000-5,000 acres and burned at least six buildings.

The wildfires which started Sunday also destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and chased some 20,000 people from their dwellings.

Thousands of firefighters battled wind gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) that rapidly spread 15 separate wildfires across some 73,000 acres, according to CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant.

About 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed throughout the region, Ken Pimlott, director of CalFire, said at a news conference.

Two hospitals were forced to evacuate in Sonoma County, state officials said.

A separate wildfire on Monday torched at least a half-dozen homes in the affluent Anaheim Hills neighborhood of Southern California’s Orange County, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents there, authorities said.

That blaze erupted along a freeway off-ramp and spread quickly in gusty winds to scorch some 5,000 acres (1,600 hectares) in a matter of hours, fire officials said.

The fatalities brought the official wildfire-related death toll in California this year to 13 and represented the greatest loss of civilian life from a single cluster of blazes in the state in a decade, state fire officials said.

In a news conference in which he declared an emergency in seven counties, Gov. Jerry Brown said,“The heat, the lack of humidity and the winds are all driving a very dangerous situation and making it worse. It’s not under control by any means. But we’re on it in the best way we know how.” he added “This is really serious; it’s moving fast,”

Brown who later wrote a five-page letter to President Trump seeking federal emergency aid. A vocal critic of Trump’s politics, Brown wrote that he has “determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that an effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments and supplemental federal assistance is necessary.”

extended the declaration to include four more northern California counties and Orange County in Southern California, and requested a U.S. presidential disaster declaration to support state and local firefighting resources.

Sonoma County bore the brunt of the fatalities, with seven fire-related deaths confirmed there, according to the sheriff’s department. Two others died in Napa County and one more in Mendocino County, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).

Details of those deaths were not immediately available from state or local officials. But KGO-TV in San Francisco, citing unnamed California Highway Patrol sources, described one victim as a blind, elderly woman found dead in the driveway of her home in Santa Rosa, a town in Sonoma County.

Brad Alexander, a spokesman for the governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said the death toll could climb higher.

The current tally constituted 10-year record for civilian wildfire fatalities in the state, dating back to 14 who lost their lives in a series of blazes that swept San Diego County and other parts of Southern California in October 2007, according to CalFire spokeswoman Janet Upton.

The situation in Santa Rosa, the largest city in Sonoma County, appeared dire. The Tubbs Fire, as the blaze in Sonoma is known, sped southwest from Calistoga in Napa Valley, jumped Highway 101 and entered Santa Rosa. Cal Fire officials said the cause is under investigation.

Kaiser Permanente evacuated about 130 patients from the Santa Rosa Medical Center by ambulance and private bus early Monday morning, according to Jenny Mack, the health system’s public relations director for Northern California. The patients were taken to Kaiser Permanente in San Rafael, in Marin County, and to other hospitals and evacuation sites.

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital also evacuated all of its patients. By Monday afternoon, the hospital was inaccessible because of road closures.

Will Powers, a Cal Fire representative, said the California Highway Patrol was evacuating some people by helicopter in rural areas of Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties.

The current wildfires had burned more than 70,000 acres in Northern California by late Monday afternoon, nearly all of those in Sonoma and Napa counties, the heartland of the state’s renowned wine industry. A smaller but fast-moving fire in Mendocino County to the north killed one person, according to Jonathan Cox, a battalion chief and spokesman for Cal Fire. The sheriff of Sonoma County confirmed seven additional deaths there, and Cal Fire confirmed two deaths in the Atlas Fire in Napa County.

Source: washington post

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