×

Wildfires destroy 1,500 buildings and force 20,000 people to evacuate Northern California

  • California's fire chief says at least 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed in wildfires that have ripped through the state's wine country.
  • He says numerous people have been injured and a number of residents are also missing as 14 large fires burn.
Firefighters douse flames as a home burns in the Napa wine region in California on October 9, 2017, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region.
Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images
Firefighters douse flames as a home burns in the Napa wine region in California on October 9, 2017, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region.

California's fire chief says at least 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed in wildfires that have ripped through the state's wine country.

He says numerous people have been injured and a number of residents are also missing as 14 large fires burn.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott says an estimated 20,000 people have been evacuated.

He called the estimates of destroyed structures very conservative. Pimlott says the fires are burning throughout an eight-county swath of Northern California, including Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.

Pimlott said most of the fires started at about 10 p.m. Sunday and their causes are under investigation. He said firefighters are concentrating on saving lives rather than battling the blazes.

He didn't have an estimate on the number of people hurt and missing.

Hospitals evacuated

More than 200 people were hurriedly evacuated from two Santa Rosa hospitals threatened by wildfires that bloomed overnight.

Lisa Amador, a spokeswoman with Sutter Health, said around 9 a.m. that Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital had finished evacuating the last of more than 80 patients in surgical, labor and emergency care.

She says the hospital is sending staff home. Amador says the hospital and the medical office building next to it are intact, but other structures are ruined.

Jenny Mack, a spokeswoman for Kaiser Permanente, says about 130 patients were evacuated from the Santa Rosa medical center Monday morning.

She said all appointments and surgeries are cancelled for the day in Santa Rosa and Napa, and the KP medical offices in Napa are closed.

State of emergency

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties because of wildfires that the governor says are threatening thousands of homes.

Brown issued the declaration on Monday, as multiple fires forced people to evacuate their homes.

Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann said more than 50 structures had been destroyed, but there were no reports of injuries or deaths.

Residents describe terrifying middle-of-the-night scrambles to flee from raging wildfires.

Biermann says the fires had burned more than 68 square miles (176sq. kilometers).

Residents in Napa and Sonoma counties are describing their terrifying middle-of-the-night scramble to flee from raging wildfires.

Terri Ruttledge, who lives on Adobe Canyon in Kenwood, just made it out before the fire burned her house.

Ruttledge says she looked out her window and saw the mountain across the road on fire. When she couldn't reach 911, she quickly loaded up the car and fled.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered after blazes broke out late Sunday.

Napa County Board of Supervisors chairwoman Belia Ramos says officials do not yet have a count on how many properties have been affected in the 20,000 acre (8,100 hectare) fire.

She says the wind gusts were tremendous and made the fire unpredictable.

There were reportedly intermittent problems with cell networks in the North Bay area.

Blaze hits wine country

Fires also burned just to the east in the Napa County wine country as well as in Yuba, Butte and Nevada counties.

Residents of Northern California wine country are describing harrowing escapes from wind-whipped wildfires.

Marian Williams says she caravanned with neighbors through flames early Monday as one of several fires reached the vineyards and ridges of the small Sonoma County town of Kenwood.

Williams says she could feel the heat as trees turned into torches.

The fires are being fanned by strong, dry and gusty winds raking the region.

Firefighters are battling several wind-whipped fires that forced evacuations of rural neighborhoods in Northern California.

The Press Democrat reports reports that mandatory evacuations were ordered after a blaze broke out late Sunday near Santa Rosa, which is 54 miles (87 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office says deputies were dispatched to help firefighters and California Highway Patrol officers with evacuations.

Multiple fires broke out Sunday night as strong winds buffeted the area. Emergency lines were inundated with callers reporting smoke in the area.

Downed trees were blocking parts of one rural road and fires were burning on both sides of Highway 12 as gusts reached up to 60 mph (96.5 kph).

Cal Fire says firefighters were battling a 200-acre (80.9-hectare) fire in Napa County.