Update (8 pm ET): California state fire authorities are reporting that 10 people have been confirmed dead because of the wildfires that are raging in eight Northern California counties. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office reported seven fire-related deaths late Monday. In addition, two died because of the Atlas fire in Napa County and one in Mendocino County, according to a CalFire spokesperson. The fires, which were enabled by dry conditions and a powerful, dry wind blowing west from the desert, spread quickly and reportedly left many area residents scrambling to flee their path.
The Sheriff’s Office confirms seven fire-related deaths from the Sonoma Co. fires. Our condolences to their friends and families.
— Sonoma Sheriff (@sonomasheriff) October 9, 2017
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Wine country is burning.
Thousands of residents of Napa Valley, Sonoma and six other counties have been forced from their homes – and thousands more are preparing to flee – as 14 wildfires tear through Northern California, resisting fire fighters’ efforts to contain them.
California’s fire chief says at least 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed – and officials said that estimate was probably conservative. While no deaths have been confirmed, fire officials say numerous residents have been injured and a number of people are also missing. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott say an estimated 20,000 people have been evacuated.
Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Sonoma, Napa and Yuba counties, revealing that FEMA had approved emergency grants to help the state combat the fires. More than 20,000 people have been forced to evacuate, state officials said.
— KPIX 5 (@CBSSF) October 9, 2017
As the LA Times reported, fire-friendly weather conditions converged prior to the outbreak of fires, which originated primarily in Sonoma and Napa.
The Santa Ana winds – strong, extremely dry down-slope winds that occur mainly in the fall and originate inland in desert regions – were one factor in helping the fires spread. Warm temperatures also create the dry conditions that have helped the blazes spread like…well…wildfire.
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