Wildfires create worst air quality in San Francisco Bay Area

An aerial view of homes that were destroyed by wildfire in Santa Rosa Calif

An aerial view of homes that were destroyed by wildfire in Santa Rosa Calif

"The bottom line is we have a hot shower, a bathroom and a bed and blankets", said wildfire evacuee from Sonoma, Eric Morrison.

The 22 fires, many out of control, spanned more than 265 square miles as the inferno entered its fourth day.

"If I knew this was going to happen, maybe those 45 minutes I spent trying to put the fire down, I should've just grabbed all the belongings", Garnica said.

Wildfire in wine country.

With fires advancing from several sides in Sonoma Valley, law enforcement officers on loan from other areas of Northern California barred residents of evacuated communities from returning to see how the homes and businesses had fared. That raises the statewide death total from 29 to 31.

The Napa Valley town of Calistoga faces one of the biggest threats and its 5,000-plus residents were ordered from their homes as winds picked up and fire crept closer.

"In times like these, it is more important than ever for our industry to come together and support one another", said Christa-Lee McWatters Bond, chair of the B.C. Wine Institute.

"We are literally looking at explosive vegetation", Pimlott said.

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.

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

Officials warned that very fine smoke particles, thinner than a human hair, can get lodged in the lungs and into the bloodstream, causing irreparable damage to the body.

Sonoma and Napa counties has more than 100,000 acres of wine grapes and are home to more than 650 wineries, according to the Wine Institute.

The sun rises through a cloud of smoke after a wildfire swept through the area in Sonoma County.

. Until now, the efforts have focused on "life safety" rather than extinguishing the blazes, partly because the flames were shifting with winds and targeting new communities without warning.

In Southern California, cooler weather and moist ocean air helped firefighters gain ground against a wildfire that has scorched nearly 14 square miles.

Orange County fire officials said the blaze was 60 percent contained.

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