February 23, 2018

This viral before-and-after photo shows harrowing damage of California wildfires

12 October 2017, 06:26 | Taylor George

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13 dead as wildfires torch California wine country, state of emergency declared in eight counties

"The conditions are just ripe - the recipe is just right", said Amy Head, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, CalFire for short, who was in the field with crews at the Tubbs Fire between Calistoga and Santa Rosa on Wednesday.

About 25,000 people have been evacuated in Sonoma County and 5,000 have sought refuge in shelters, the department said.

Still, thousands of residents are not allowed to return home because of the evacuation orders in many parts of the North Bay, including the most recent ones in Sonoma Valley and Geyserville.

After a day of cooler weather and calmer winds, officials say low moisture and unsafe gusty winds will return to the region Wednesday afternoon, complicating firefighters' efforts.

Seventeen large fires are raging primarily in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, with near zero containment.

Police blocked off many roads and prevented people from going into the destroyed neighborhoods, where some people said they no longer could recognize streets and surroundings.

Pacific Gas and Electric said it reported those events to the state utility regulator and Cal Fire.

"These are all fires that were in areas that are populated, and 95% of the fires in our state are started by people" in some way, he said, downplaying the chances that lightning may have played a role.

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Fire related evacuations in northern and central Sonoma County and in Napa County continued late Tuesday afternoon.

Eliason said County Fire has added a Type 3 brush truck to the Type 1 engine normally located at Station 13 in Santa Barbara, another brush engine has been stationed in Solvang, and two water tenders are stationed at the Gaviota turn.

"And if they're asked to go, they should go", Eliason said.

Seventeen people have been confirmed dead with officials warning that this figure could rise.

"Climate change is definitely a significant piece of why we're having more fires", says Stewart.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in several northern counties, as well as in Orange County in Southern California, where a fire in Anaheim destroyed 15 structures and damaged 12.

"The historic wind event that swept across PG&E's service area late Sunday and early Monday packed hurricane-strength winds in excess of 75 miles per hour in some cases", Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said in a statement. President Trump has issued a major disaster declaration; the Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing federal disaster assistance to California to bolster state, tribal and local recovery efforts. Still, they said it was a relief to see their house spared.

Another Atlas Peak Road resident, Richard Clark, said Tuesday he still hadn't seen the fire's destruction and has no idea what will be left of his home.

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