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California deadly wildfires : 17 dead, 2000 buildings destroyed

13 Octubre 2017

A Yakima-based wildfire crew has been dispatched along with other firefighters and equipment that the state is sending to battle fires raging in California's wine country.

Alejandro Rodriguez had been evacuated from one tiny Sonoma Valley town, only to have deputies come to the neighborhood to where he had relocated and tell residents there to pack up and go.

"When I got in the car to leave, a whole section of the mobile park was in flames", he said.

"We have unprecedented levels of smoke and particles in the air that we normally don't see", said Ralph Borrmann, a spokesman for the district.

The wildfires are already well on their way to becoming the deadliest in California history.

"It's the sort of thing that, if nothing else, reminds that farming, which is essentially what we're doing, is an inherently risky business, and nature will take a hand, and we never know what that's going to look like", he said. "Make no mistake", he later added, "this is a serious, critical, catastrophic event".

Two hospitals in the county were forced to evacuate, while authorities imposed a sunset-to-sunrise curfew in the region, saying they were on the lookout for looters. Countless emergency vehicles sped toward the flames, sirens blaring, as evacuees sped away.

Officials were concerned that the many separate blazes would merge into larger infernos.

Helicopters and air tankers were assisting thousands of firefighters trying to beat back the flames.

Strong winds late Sunday and early Monday affected the utility's electrical lines across the North Bay, the company said in a statement.

Any electrical facilities in Sonoma County are owned by the utility, unless the facilities are on private property, King said. Until now, the efforts have focused on "life safety" rather than extinguishing the blazes, partly because the flames were shifting with winds and targeting communities without warning.

"These fires are literally just burning faster than firefighters can run in some situations", Emergency Operations Director Mark Ghilarducci said.

A Southern California wildfire that destroyed 14 buildings - most of them homes - was contained yesterday.

California deadly wildfires : 17 dead, 2000 buildings destroyed