Death toll rises in California wildfires

Elias Hubbard
October 12, 2017

Calistoga Joint Unified School District and Saint Helena Unified School District have both canceled classes through the rest of this week because of the wildfires burning in Napa County since Sunday night, district officials said Tuesday. The other 10 deaths are dispersed across three other counties. Early Wednesday, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office issued additional mandatory evacuation orders.

"Critical red flag fire weather conditions are becoming more likely across the watch area late Thursday due to the potential for northerly winds gusting between 30 and 45 miles per hour" amid humidity levels of between 5 and 15 percent, warned the statement.

Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano put the number of people unaccounted for in the hard-hit county at 285 and said officers were starting limited searches in the "cold zones" they could reach.

It's unclear what caused fires to form suddenly around the same time in one night, blazing through California's wine country while many residents were caught unaware as they headed to bed.

Drone video from after daylight Monday morning show buildings still smoldering and fire crews attempting to put out several fires in Santa Rosa.

The fires have burned more than 54,000 acres in the North Bay.

Maj. Gen. David Baldwin of the California National Guard says 242 soldiers and airmen are assisting in responding to the fires in the two counties. "They are making headway", he said. "Hopefully, the answer is yes".

Northern California's raging wildfires continued to spread Wednesday, fanned by stiff winds that forced new evacuations in a widening circle of damage.

Describing the fight against a multidimensional event, Cox laid out firefighters' priorities: "To protect people's lives and get them out of harm's way, to protect the structures and also to build containment lines where we do have the opportunities of engagement".

The sun rises through a cloud of smoke after a wildfire swept through the area in Sonoma County.

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At least 2000 homes have been destroyed. By Thursday morning, it had burned almost 28,000 acres.

"I want to say a few words to the people of California". As we've learned since, whether the causes related to downed or sparking power lines or there were other factors involved, the little known and somewhat uncommon Diablo winds are clearly to blame for how big and how fast these fires became.

Six people have died in Mendocino County, two in Yuba County and two in Napa County, officials told told the Los Angeles Times. "We will bounce back", said Colbert. Families are still in the process of contacting and locating loved ones that are staying in the shelter of community members or shelters set up at local schools and community facilities.

If it turns out that PG&E is responsible for this fire and negligent for not putting in the resources or for diverting the resources, then I will be the first one to stand up and say we need to dissolve PG&E as a private company and form a public utility. "And so I wanted all my neighbors that know me on Facebook to see what happened, and what was gone and what wasn't gone so that they have some kind of idea what to do next".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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