California fire authorities listed 82 active fires burning across the state, with the worst devastation in the Wine Country, where nine major fires have burnt over 84,000 acres, causing at least 15 deaths and leaving 240 residents missing.
It is believed that at least 20 of the region’s 650 wineries have been severely damaged or destroyed. Federal, state and local fire authorities have put 2,500 professional firefighters on the Wine Country fires. It is believed that at least another 500 volunteer firefighters have joined the battle.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that Napa and Sonoma Counties have suffered over 1,000 more wildfires this year than in 2016, with over 225,000 acres burned since January 1. The National Interagency Fire Center 2017 incident count for the Western states’ first nine months of the year was 50,000 fires, which have burned over 8.5 million acres. That is more than double the number in the first three quarters of 2016.
Fast-moving wildfires raging across Northern California’s wine country have killed 17 people, left about 150 missing and destroyed 1,500 homes, wineries and other structures, state fire officials said on Tuesday.
The flames from 17 major blazes have blackened more than 115,000 acres (46,500 hectares) since fires broke out on Sunday amid hot, dry conditions and high winds.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said 11 of the fatalities were in its jurisdiction, where 155 people were still missing, although 45 others had been found and some of those unaccounted for may be due to confusion surrounding evacuations.
North of San Francisco, the fires reduced houses to ashes in several communities. The city of Santa Rosa was particularly hard hit by the so-called Tubbs Fire, which damaged a Hilton hotel and destroyed a mobile home park.
Tens of thousands of residents were forced to flee, as schools closed and at least two hospitals in Sonoma County were temporarily shuttered.