At least 11 dead as fires rage in Northern California


International desk, October 10: More than a dozen wildfires raged across Northern California on Tuesday morning, with the biggest ones scorching the state’s famous wine country, killing at least 11 people and burning more than 1,500 homes and businesses, authorities said.The fires were burning in California’s wine country destinations — Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties — as well as Yuba County, north of Sacramento, with flames ripping through the lush, picturesque landscape.

Here’s what we know so far, according to California authorities.

  • At least 11 people have died since Sunday night when most of the fires began. Seven deaths were reported in the city of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, two in Napa County, one in Mendocino County and one in Yuba County, according to officials.
  • 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.
  • Wildfires were burning more than 119,032 acres in California as of Monday night.
  • More than 100 phone calls have been made to Sonoma County’s missing persons hotline, the county said Monday.
  • More than 20,000 people evacuated, some with little notice.
  • Most of the Northern California fires ignited Sunday night, driven by winds of more than 50 mph and dry conditions, Director Ken Pimlott of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Monday. The high winds led to “extreme rates of spread and volatile burning conditions,” according to Cal Fire.
  • Firefighters in Northern California appeared to be getting a break from the weather Tuesday. Winds decreased throughout the area — 6 to 13 mph was forecast around Santa Rosa. “Winds and the fire weather threat will decrease Tuesday in the north, but a threat will remain in Southern California,” according to the National Weather Service on Tuesday.

Seven deaths were reported there, but Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said, “That number’s going to change.”

Officers were still searching for people to evacuate and rescue, he said, and “it’s just logical” more bodies will be found.

Destroyed landmark buildings in the city included the Fountaingrove Inn, a 124-room hotel; a nearby event center, the Fountaingrove Round Barn; and classrooms at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat reported. One of Santa Rosa’s fire stations was also lost in the fire, according to a post on the Mountain View Fire Department’s Facebook account.

Source: Agencies