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.
#BREAKING: Gov. Jerry Brown announces State of Emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba Counties. due to fires pic.twitter.com/Yvd75jt4IZ
— 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.
“This is really serious, it’s moving fast. The heat, the lack of humidity and the winds are all driving a very dangerous situation and making it worse,” the governor said at a morning press conference. “It’s not under control by any means. But we’re on it in the best way we know how.”
In Santa Rosa, the capital of Sonoma county, whole neighborhoods have been evacuated and 200 patients have been moved from area hospitals, the Associated Press reported.
Smoke plumes from the fires showed up on the NWS radar…
Smoke plume from #AtlasFire showing up on radar. #cawx #cafire pic.twitter.com/QWhsv2RAGg
— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) October 9, 2017
…and were also detected by satellite imaging…
Striking satellite images show smoke, heat from California wildfires https://t.co/w824rGAeRk pic.twitter.com/BgQBmRk7MT < www.lividu…
— #SeenByLivi (@Lividul) October 9, 2017
Video taken by journalists shows farms, homes and vineyards engulfed in flames.
Wildfires roaring through California’s wine country are like an “inferno … you’ve never seen before.” #napafire pic.twitter.com/9KOKXHAVXP
— Vinotinto News (@DeporteEnLaRed) October 9, 2017
Smoke wafted down to the Bay Area, but the Marin County Fire Department confirmed that there were no fires in that part of the state.
Further south in Anaheim Hills, a 25-acre brush fire broke out Monday, forcing some residents to evacuate, NBC reported.
Firefighters said they were concerned about embers drifting on strong winds into nearby neighborhoods. Thick smoke billowed over the freeways and the communities of Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills.
October is historically one of the most dangerous months of the year when it comes to wildfires in California. Four of the state’s five most-destructive fire occurred in October, including the 1991 Oakland Hill firestorms that resulted in 25 fatalities and burned 2,900 buildings.
The Lake and Mendocino County Sheriffs ordered evacuations. The sheriff in Butte County said there were two fires in the area and ordered mandatory evacuations in several neighborhoods.
Belia Ramos, the chairwoman of the Napa County board of supervisors, said the county was trying to contain three main fires, one of which is threatening more than 10,00 acres in Northern Napa County, another that is threatening between 8,000 to 12,000 acres, and a third that has affected some 2,00 acres.
The fires were moving swiftly and in unpredictable paths through densely populated areas.
California struggled with wildfires during the summer, including a blaze late last month that forced 1,000 people in Southern California to evacuate.
Both AT&T and Verizon confirmed that their customers may be currently experiencing outages.
“A power and connectivity issue is causing a service interruption in parts of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties,” Verizon Wireless Pacific market public relations manager Heidi Flato said.
“Our engineers are aware of this issue and are working with our vendor partners to resolve this issue quickly.”
PG&E is also reporting power outages, mostly in the Sonoma area, due to the fire, according to SFGate.
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