California Fires Bring Death Toll to 40 as Flames Die Down

Cal Fire  CBS News

Cal Fire CBS News

Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said about 5,700 homes and buildings have been destroyed by wildfires burning in Northern California. In Sonoma County, Sheriff Rob Giordano said authorities have accounted for 1,560 of the more than 1,700 once listed as missing, according to AP. Our house is on top of a hill, and we're surrounded by mountains far to the north. This time I saw a glow coming from the other side of the mountains, many miles away.

About 12 percent of grapes grown in California are in Sonoma, Napa and surrounding counties, said Anita Oberholster, a cooperative extension specialist in enology at the University of California, Davis.

The Tubbs Fire alone has burned through more than 36,000 acres and killed at least 18 people from Calistoga to Santa Rosa. "This is the most fatalities I've seen in my career and it's incredible". Speaking October 11, Pimlott warned that, before the day was over, he feared simultaneous conflagrations to the west, east and north of the Napa Valley could merge into one super-fire. "For some perspective, it was 50 to 70 mile an hour winds that were were that were in the fire area". At least nine of the deaths have been attributed to that fire.

That includes several thousand homes, including in the wine country of Napa. As is often typical for significant press briefings, a person standing to the right of the podium translated the officials' words into American Sign Language. He checked the local police scanner app on his phone and learned that wildfires blazing out of control were moving in on his four-bedroom townhouse in Southern California's Orange County. The fire was just her latest trouble: Before finding a long-awaited spot at the shelter, she was homeless. "This is a serious, critical, catastrophic event". PG&E blames those winds, the drought and the winter storms for causing trees, branches and debris to impact the company's electrical lines in the North Bay. He said the group has not heard from all members, especially those in the most vulnerable parts of the valley. Wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through Northern California sending residents on a headlong flight to safety through smoke and flames as homes burned. Wineries that suffered fire damage have lost reserve wines, not just the current vintage, but wines aging in barrel and bottle; it's too soon to account for how much is lost.

The atmosphere at Finley on Tuesday afternoon was busy as evacuees tried to connect with loved ones, some waiting desperately to hear whether the fires had spared their homes.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who helped to introduce the bill, told Congress, "it's long past time we treat wildfires like other natural disasters and allow federal agencies to pay for them like other natural disasters". "All of these fires are under investigation and it's certainly very early in the process", he said.

On Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it would provide federal funding and coordination after determining the fires "threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster", an announcement stated.

To the northwest, the Tubbs Fire has consumed more than 35,000 acres (14,000 hectares) and is 60 percent contained. That's evident in the diversity of fire trucks rolling out toward the fires. Jodi Alton, who normally works as an administrative assistant at the Finley Community Center for the city of Santa Rosa, has been helping run the evacuation facility since Monday morning. Police in St. Helena are encouraging residents to have an emergency go bag ready in case evacuation orders are issued for the area. More than 20,000 people have been evacuated.

"But when it's happening to you, it's a whole different realm". Then, pointing out that 95 percent of all fires are human-caused, the fire chief added, "I will tell you that the chances that it's lightning is probably fairly minimal".

Firefighters gained some ground overnight as the blazes grew little in favorable weather, but crews face another battle against gusty winds, low humidity and higher temperatures expected Friday.

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