Death toll rises to 23 in NorCal wildfires; hundreds still missing

12 October, 2017, 18:25 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • California wildfire map from Cal Fire

Saying that law enforcement officers in Sonoma County were going door to door to pull people from their homes as the fires approached, Pimlott said it was critical that residents heeded evacuation orders so firefighters could focus on containing the flames that were nourished into giants by 50 miles per hour winds on Sunday night.

Still, thousands of residents are not allowed to return home because of the evacuation orders in many parts of the North Bay, including the most recent ones in Sonoma Valley and Geyserville.

But the fast-moving fires have decimated whole neighborhoods, leaving nothing but the charred remains of houses and brick chimneys standing among soot-covered lots.

The other big fire, the Atlas Fire centered in Napa and Solano counties, did not grow much, according to Cal Fire; it remained at almost 43,000 acres and was 3 percent contained, up from zero the day before.

Authorities say at least 10 are dead, at least 100 are injured and at least 1,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed.

Wednesday morning, ABC7 reported that seven Santa Rosa firefighters lost their homes in the wildfires.

Two people were killed in the Atlas Fire, which is burning in Napa and Solano counties.

He said that autumn - when summer heat has dried out brush - is the most risky time of the year for wildfires in the state, adding that California was still feeling the effects of five years of drought.

"Climate change is definitely a significant piece of why we're having more fires", says Stewart. "Hopefully, the answer is yes".

The Mark West, Coffey Park, Glen Ellen and Kenwood areas have been the most challenging fire zones in the sheriff's office's unincorporated county jurisdictions, Giordano said.

The smoke may linger for days, underscoring the need for people to stay indoors as much as possible and avoid strenuous exercise in smoky areas, air regulators cautioned. "They are making headway", he said. "This is one of the biggest, most serious, and it's not over", Brown said at a news conference Wednesday, alongside the state's top emergency officials.

The McClellan Reload Base, an airstrip that is used to support aerial firefighting efforts, "pumped over 266,000 gallons of fire retardant Monday".

"Asked by a reporter about the impacts to the state's wine industry, the governor said that California's "$2.5 trillion economy grows even through disasters and tragedies. "And we will be there for you in this time of bad tragedy and need".

According to CAL FIRE's statewide fire map, there are 32 active fires.

In addition to high winds, fires were stoked by an abundance of thick brush and other vegetation left tinder dry by a summer of hot, dry weather.

"These embers can twist and turn and wind up in other areas that might not be in the direction of the winds", Garcia said.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag alert for the Central Coast, starting Thursday night and continuing into Saturday with strong offshore winds predicted to raise the wildfire danger to critical levels.

Shelters and evacuation centers are set up across the area.

Drone footage from above Santa Rosa, a city in Sonoma County, reveals an apocalypse-like neighborhood.

"I've heard some very harrowing stories."

The fire chief told reporters that when the stories are told of what happened, he expects to hear of people asleep in their homes as the flames raced down in ambush.

For Perez and his neighbor, Richard Clark, now comes the hard task of rebuilding.

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