Death toll in California wildfire rises to 21


Death toll in California wildfire rises to 21

Berlant said some of the victims in northern California were asleep when the fast-moving fires broke out, igniting their homes before they could escape. In one 90-minute period, fire crews responded to more than 10 different locations resulting from the rash of 911 calls and other reports about electrical equipment fires.

Six people have died in Mendocino County, two in Yuba County and two in Napa County, officials told told the Los Angeles Times.

The massive complex of blazes has burned 265 square miles since breaking out nearly simultaneously on Sunday night.

Though the National Weather Service said there are a few small fires burning in Idaho, none of them are big enough to cause this much haze.

The entire town of Calistoga, a Napa Valley community of some 5,000 residents spared from advancing flames the first night of the fire, was ordered to evacuate on Wednesday evening, as the county sheriff's office warned that conditions had worsened as the so-called Tubbs Fire was burning nearby. A local subdivision that housed 7,000 people was leveled by fire.

John Van Dyke, standing in his pyjamas near the 101 Freeway in Santa Rosa, watched a hillside in flames from the Tubbs fire.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved a major disaster declaration, clearing the way for federal help with the disaster, saying that "the federal government will stand with the people of California".

One strike team, led by a battalion chief from Santa Barbara City Fire Department, is fighting the Atlas fire that's burned 42,349 acres in Napa and Solano counties.

Firefighters battling 22 blazes were challenged on Wednesday by blustery conditions and shifting winds.

"We're not focused a whole lot on actual containment", he said.

In addition to high winds, fires were stoked by an abundance of thick brush and other vegetation left tinder dry by a summer of hot, dry weather.

Evacuations in the Montebello Road area on the south side of Shiloh Ranch Regional Park north of Santa Rosa and south of Windsor were begun after a fire broke out in the 5500 block of Faught Road around 4:08 p.m.

"I don't know, man, the wrath of God is not very happy", Branch said. He also said deputies have stopped escorting people into evacuation areas to retrieve medications. This made it easier for the flames to spread and also knocked down power lines where the fires started.

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

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With limited cell service and power down in many places, residents whose homes were spared are finding it hard to return, especially since most homes in the hills use wells.

"This to me is like a nuclear bomb went off", Larson said near his home.

"If someone calls 911, they're going to get an engine", he added.