23 dead in 'catastrophic' California wildfires
More than 200 fire engines and firefighting crews from around the country were being rushed to California on Wednesday to help battle infernos which have left at least 23 people dead and thousands homeless.
"This is a serious, critical, catastrophic event," California fire chief Ken Pimlott told reporters. "We're not going to be out of the woods for a great number of days to come."
Pimlott said that after a respite on Tuesday winds kicked up again on Wednesday and the winds and dry conditions were hampering efforts to contain the blazes.
"We are still impacted by five years of drought," the director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said.
"These fires were driven by the critically dry fuel bed," he added. "We are literally looking at explosive vegetation."
Pimlott said the death toll from the fires, among the deadliest ever in California, could be expected to go up further.
Thirteen of the deaths have occurred in Sonoma County, a wine-producing region which has been particularly hard hit, while six people have died in Mendocino County. There have been two deaths in Napa County and two in Yuba County.
Entire neighborhoods in Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 which is the county seat of Sonoma County, have been reduced to ashes.
Thousands of people have been left homeless and 25,000 people have evacuated their homes in Sonoma County alone, according to officials.
- 285 missing -
More than 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed including several wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties, the heart of the state's wine production.
Six hundred people have been reported missing in Sonoma County, but more than half of them have been located, Sheriff Robert Giordano told reporters.
"There's still 285 on our missing list that we're looking for," he said.
Pimlott said firefighters were battling a total of 22 wildfires that have burned over 170,000 acres (68,800 hectares) and that reinforcements had been requested.
He said 170 fire engines had been ordered from the neighboring states of Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington and another 154 engines from elsewhere around the country.
In addition, 60 firefighting crews from other states were on their way to California to provide assistance, he said.
"Our primary goal is to get these resources into the fires," Pimlott said.
He said 73 helicopters, 30 air tankers and nearly 8,000 firefighters were currently taking part in the effort to extinguish the blazes.
President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in California, freeing up federal funding and resources to help fight the fires. And Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in eight counties.
Bob Nelson, 53, stopped in his black pickup truck at a police roadblock near Santa Rosa, said he fled his home on Sunday and returned on Tuesday.
- 'Like a thief came in' -
"There was no damage," he said. "But then we got evacuated again.
"We don't know about our house now," Nelson told AFP. "I've got no idea. It's in the middle of two fires."
Michael Desmond, 63, does know, and the news is bad: his home was one of hundreds destroyed by the blaze in the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa.
"I feel violated; like a thief came in," said Desmond, who sobbed as he surveyed the rubble of the house where he grew up.
Much of the damage in Santa Rosa can be seen from US Route 101, the north-south highway which runs from California through Oregon to Washington state.
The Sonoma County Hilton perched on a hill overlooking Route 101 is a ruin of charred wood and twisted metal, as is the nearby Fountaingrove Inn.
An enormous K-Mart store has been entirely destroyed with only a couple of blackened walls still standing.
Among the wineries which reportedly suffered damage were William Hill Estate Winery in Napa, Signorello Vineyards, Stags' Leap and Chimney Rock.
Forest fires are common in the western United States during dry, hot months but, with 21 deaths so far, this year's California fires are among the deadliest ever.
The Griffith Park fire in Los Angeles County in 1933 killed at least 29 people and 25 people died in the 1991 Oakland Hills fire.
- One Final Offer From the EU to the UK
- Anti-Dumping Bill Gazetted Protection for Local Industries
- Tourism Statistics SLTDA disputes CCC
- Smugglers detained at BIA
- SI injured during hooch raid Falls from third floor balcony
- 1070 traffic fatalities in 2017 121 murders during same period - Police
- Rattota Police OIC suspended
- Technical error in Diversity Visa Programme DV-2019 US Embassy says re-register
- Dr. Rajitha Senaratne addressing the WHC in Berlin:Effective NC Disease control by 2020
- Janjua meets Ranil
- UNP Annual Convention after the Budget
- Speaker instructs Finance Ministry:Appoint team to act on COPE findings
- Villagers ask for return of Iranaitheevu
- Mezhivanam Villagers face severe hardships Malnourishment on the increase
- UNP is drifting like a rudderless ship Pradeep
- Meteoroid crash over southern coast
- Speaker instructs Finance Ministry: Appoint team to act on COPE findings
- New Constitution People mislead by false propaganda AFRIEL
- Death threats to Bonds Probe witness CID launches probe
- Kiriella reveals he has Rs 400 M in bank accounts
- Festering SAITM issue President to address the nation
- Ransomware could affect smartphones – SLCERT
- Ranil slams media on Prelate’s statement Diyawadana Nilame to be questioned
- Corruption, fraud and misappropriation COPE finds 15 State bodies guilty Losses to Govt runs into billions
- Quo Vadis, China?
- Sadeera’s inclusion will strengthen batting Sri Lanka face uphill task
- Anika into semis in Singapore
- ‘Singer Cup’ U-19 Schools Cricket 15-year-old Pawan scores century
- Sheoran takes Sri Lanka Golf title in thriller
- Century-makers on ODI debut
- Hazard rescues Chelsea
- Hamilton in driving seat for fourth world title
- The best I can do is answer with my bat : Imam-ul-Haq
- ‘Singer Cup’ U-13 Div.I Schools Cricket Ehelepola scores century
- 15th Blue and Gold Hockey Sevens next weekend
- All Island Schools U-20 Hockey Championship Seethadevi emerge champions
- AVIC Powers Astoria Women’s Futures Tennis
- Kusal Perera ruled out from Pakistan T20Is
- De Villiers hits thrilling century
- Sri Lanka ‘A’ tour of West Indies 2nd Four day match starts today
- Sluggish Sri Lanka move slowly
- ‘Singer Cup’ U-19 Schools Cricket St. John’s Jaffna create major upset
- SL women’s tour of WIndies T20 matches start today
- Sri Lanka approaching Pakistan visit cautiously
- Wattala Antonian Sixes 2017 this weekend
- Sustainability a priority for Port City Project
- National Chamber hosts Iranian Ambassador
- Fair demand for Ceylon Tea from Japan, China
- China third quarter growth meets expectations at 6.8%
- The rise of consumerism Thorstein Veblen’s conspicuous consumption now a global phenomenon
- HNB announces seasonal discounts
- Janashakthi takes home Gold at Effie Awards
- Standard Chartered running seasonal promo
- Dialog launches first TIER III Certified Data Centre in Sri Lanka
- CSE to add dollar-denominated board
- SAP benefits in tea industry
- Palladium Holdings aims to spur infrastructure development
- CA Sri Lanka National Conference acquires top industry sponsors
- CDB Sisudiri celebrates 10th anniversary
- Mobitel debuts NB-IoT Network at Techno 2017
- Tobacco farmers seek divine assistance To avert imminent tobacco cultivation ban
- Another Effie Gold win by MullenLowe
- Asian shares trade mixed After China GDP meets expectations
- Economy hurt by poor collaboration and extensive state involvement
- BOI defends Indian footwear giant Veekesy’s Sri Lankan presence
- LAW OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE Part XIX Joinder of Charges III
- Implications of Provincial Police Departments
- Cairo: Most dangerous megacity for women
- Proxy Waiting
- Shortage of Science Graduates
- Fall of Raqqa
- UN urges B’desh to move Rohingya refugees
- Flu shots are the greatest medical fraud in the history of the world
- Sucking it up
- Ahikuntika community of Sri Lanka Diminishing cultural traits
- Large Industrial Zone for Thulhiriya
- Even the PM should be in Prison for the frauds
- Would like more Pradeshiya Sabhas for N’Eliya-Radhakrishnan
- UNHRC Resolution 30/1 Implications for Sri Lanka (Part II) (Based on a presentation to the OPA)
- Electoral Reforms are for People’s Benefit
- Managing perception with international community
- Salient points of horoscope Assessment
- KARMIC CONNECTIONS IN THE BIRTH CHARTS 2
- Dream of travelling abroad?
- Mystery behind Osama bin Laden explained
- Three poses to relieve trauma
- Socio-economic developments from critical perspective
- KAZUO ISHIGURO – THE NEW NOBEL LAUREATE
- The Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2018 –Internationally acclaimed authors to take part
- Portrayal of country and nature
- Resonant Field Imaging - a Marvel in Technology
- Shankar’s International Children’s Competition 2018
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- Making plus-sized clothing trendy
- Pyjamas go viral as well - Sharmila Srikumar
- Giving back to Society
- Double treat at Pinnawala
- Mental illness a health issue Replacing stigma with compassion
- Studying to be ahead