California wildfires destroy more than 50 structures

Tuesday, 10 Oct, 2017

Raging wildfires in northern California have destroyed at least 1,500 structures and forced the evacuation of 20,000 residents, officials said today.

The "Tubbs" fire in Napa County, about 70 miles (113 km) north of San Francisco in an area world-famous for its vineyards, had consumed 25,000 acres as of late Monday morning according to CalFire.

As many as 10 wind-whipped fires burned a destructive path across the North Coast early Monday, destroying homes and businesses in Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley while forcing entire neighborhoods to flee in the middle of the night. Kaiser Permanente hospital was evacuated.

The Napa County Sheriff's Office said all residents from Atlas Peak Road east to Circle Oaks near Highway 121 should leave their homes.

Video from residents in the area shows the frantic evacuation efforts that unfolded Monday morning. He said firefighters are concentrating on saving lives rather than battling the blazes. The Atlas Peak fire was the largest, quickly growing to more than 200 acres near Napa, and a fire near Calistoga had burned several buildings and prompted mandatory evacuations along several roads. The Marin County Sheriff's Department tweeted that they were being overwhelmed about calls due to the smoke.

Residents throughout the Bay Area could smell the smoke blanketing the valley.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox, who reported some injuries, said "this fire is explosive". Officials had closed 33 roads as of 6:30 a.m and set up an emergency shelter capable of hosting large animals at the Yuba-Sutter fairgrounds.

The National Weather Service said the fires, which caused power outages and blanketed much of the Bay Area in smoke, were being fanned by strong and dry northeast winds.

Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties have all been affected. As many as 8,000 homes are threatened in Nevada County, the Associated Press reported.

An emergency evacuation center was full at the Finley Community Center in west Santa Rosa, located at 2060 W. College Ave. The winds were expected to subside at midday. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) Trees burn behind houses in a residential area in Santa Rosa, Calif., Monday, Oct. 9, 2017.

"In a situation like this, it is really important that we be the best we can be", he said.

"I mean blazing, falling down on fire", he said.

A Hilton Hotel was among the buildings that were left in ruins.