Posted by on October 9, 2017 1:17 pm
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Categories: Bay Area

Napa and Sonoma counties have been devastated by multiple wildfires that started Sunday night and this morning, burning tens of thousands of acres and more than a thousand structures.

An estimated 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed in 14 major fires being fueled by high winds and low humidity in Northern California today, according to Cal Fire.

Most of those structures have burned in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties, Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott, speaking late this morning at a briefing at the California Office of Emergency Services on the fires, said, “We need every resident, every resident to heed evacuation warnings.”

An estimated 20,000 people have been evacuated.

Fire officials said there have been a number of injuries and possibly some deaths in the fires.

California National Guard Adjutant General David Baldwin said at least three medical helicopters have taken people to hospital burn centers.

No specific numbers for the people who have been injured or who died were immediately available.

Emergency officials said they have been talking to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ask for resources such as water and cots.

Those officials are also working with AT&T and Verizon to reestablish cellphone service so people can get in touch with their families.

Assessment teams will be going out to get a better assessment of the damage, Berlant said.

Emergency officials said they are keeping an eye out for possible new blazes because the conditions are ripe to spark them.

More than 57,000 acres have burned in Northern California in the current fires, which are burning in Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Nevada, Calaveras and Mendocino counties.

The Tubbs Fire, initially reported in the area of state Highway 128 and Bennett Lane in the Calistoga area, is the biggest and has burned about 35,000 acres, Cal Fire officials said at a 9 a.m. news conference.

The Atlas Fire, initially reported at 9:20 p.m. Sunday, had burned between 8,000 to 12,000 acres south of Lake Berryessa and off of Atlas Peak Road and was 0 percent contained as of 9 a.m., according to Cal Fire.

Other fires are also burning in Sonoma County, prompting widespread evacuations in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Glen Ellen and other areas.

The Journey’s End mobile home park at 3575 Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa and the Estancia Apartments at 4440 Old Redwood Highway in Santa Rosa also burned.

“There were numerous other multi-family living buildings and motels that burned,” Sonoma County sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said.

Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal said, “Blocks and blocks of neighbors were completely destroyed.”

“The volume of residences, multi-family units and commercial buildings is pretty incredible,” Lowenthal said.

The Fountaingrove, Coffey Park and Hopper Avenue areas of northwest Santa Rosa were hard hit, Lowenthal said.

The California Highway Patrol’s helicopters have rescued 42 people from the area of the fires as of late this morning, CHP officials said.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Sonoma, Napa and Yuba counties as a result of the blazes, which have prompted the closure of many schools in the area, including Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.

PG&E officials said shortly before noon that about 114,000 customers were without power in Sonoma and Napa counties as a result of the fires.

PG&E spokeswoman Andrea Menniti said the utility has received multiple reports of downed power lines in the area and urged residents to stay away from them.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for the region after strong winds blew smoke from the fires all around the Bay Area.

Residents are advised to limit outdoor activities and to set air conditioning and car venting systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from entering.

Elderly people, children and those with respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to the smoky conditions and should take extra precautions, air district officials said.

A list of North Bay shelters for evacuees can be found online at https://srcity.org/610/Emergency-Information.