Fast-Moving Wildfires Ravage Northern California
Deadly wildfires continue to ravage the northern part of California, killing at least twenty six people and causing mass evacuations.
At least seventeen wildfires swept through the northern part of the state. The state’s famous wine country – Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties were severely burned. The disaster left a trail of destruction, and at least 1,500 properties were damaged.
To prevent more casualties, massive evacuations are underway. More than 20,000 people fled from the fire-ravaged counties since the blaze started Sunday night.
The governor of California declared an emergency.
“These fires have destroyed structures and continue to threaten thousands of homes, necessitating the evacuation of thousands of residents,” the declaration said.
The fires ignited Sunday night and spread with explosive speed because of dry conditions, plus the combination of high winds, low humidity and hot, dry weather.
The California Fire Service estimates that more than 70,000 acres have already been damaged in at least 14 fires. It is one of the most destructive outbreaks California has seen.
California firefighters are mobilizing efforts to save more lives amid the inferno that is fast-spreading and hard to contain due to high winds.
The weather is not favorable for firefighting efforts. Low humidity and lack of resources are complicating efforts to contain the fire.
Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann said Monday, “As of right now, with these conditions, we can’t get in front of this fire and do anything about the forward progress.”
Amid the challenging firefighting efforts, the firefighters are focused on saving lives rather than battling the blazes.
A winemaker for Garnet Vineyards & Picket Fence Vineyards in Napa Valley, expressed relief for her friends and neighbors who were able to evacuate to safer ground.
“I have friends fighting off fires with hoses in the hills. Thankfully a lot of my friends got out last night,” she said Monday.
“Wine doesn’t matter; people matter,” she said. “I know that’s people’s attitude right now.”
Napa and Sonoma counties have the most wineries in California.
How It Started
Local authorities cannot pinpoint how the fires started on Sunday night. However, dry conditions made it easy for the fires to spread. October is considered the busiest month for wildfires in state of California.
One vineyard owner described the inferno the LA Times.
Ken Moholt-Siebert said, “There was no wind, then there would be a rush of wind and it would stop. Then there would be another gust from a different direction. The flames wrapped around us.”
Mr. Siebert and his family escaped from a fire late on Sunday night.