California – Deadly wildfires engulfing the state have now claimed at least 31 lives, with hundreds missing, destroying more than 2,000 structures.
The worst-hit areas are in the northern part of the state, where more than dozen fires ravaged eight counties. The vast devastation over just a few hours made this firestorm one of the worst in California history, with Gov. Jerry Brown declaring a state of emergency for 8 counties.
In Southern California, more than 5,000 homes have been evacuated as the Canyon No 2 fire burning in Anaheim Hills has grown to 7,500 acres, destroying dozens of structures, putting an added drain on state firefighting resources as first responders battled more than a dozen blazes that erupted in Northern California on Sunday night. About 1,000 firefighters from multiple fire task forces are battling the SoCal blaze. Three helicopters were making water drops overnight.
Strong winds have been spreading the wildfire in wine country, with hospitals, homes, and hotels being evacuated. Firefighters say they are in the mode of saving lives and getting people out of harm’s way.
The structures that have been burned include The Fountaingrove Inn, a Kmart, a McDonald’s, an Arby’s, and an Applebee’s, due to the rapidly moving Atlas Fire in Napa, said Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann. Complicating firefighting efforts are low humidity and a lack of resources, he added.
Citing strong winds and extreme weather conditions, the proclamation said the Tubbs Fire and the Atlas Fire began burning in Napa County and spread into Sonoma County, while other fires also sprouted up nearby. Residents are fleeing for their lives and there are many people missing.
The National Weather Service in San Francisco on Sunday issued a “red flag warning” for the Bay Area because of current or impending critical fire weather conditions.
Santa Rosa also ordered evacuations in several neighborhoods. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said hotels were evacuated and shelters were set up. The county is working to set up shelters at fairgrounds to house animals. In Napa County, evacuations were underway as firefighters battled blazes. There were also fires in other counties such as Lake and Mendocino.
According to KPIX, along with Kaiser Permanente hospital, Sutter Hospital in Santa Rosa was also evacuated. Much of a mobile home park behind the Kaiser facility burned.
In Sacramento as part of a 3-day tour, VP Mike Pence has pledged federal aid in battling the fires.