Catastrophic California wildfires have killed at least 23 people and damaged thousands of homes, businesses and other buildings, authorities said.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said firefighters were still battling 22 wildfires in many California counties Wednesday.
Strengthened by high winds, the flames have charred about 170,000 acres of land, damaged or destroyed at least 3,500 structures and forced nearly 20,000 residents to evacuate, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Fire chief Ken Pimlott said ‘This is a serious, critical, catastrophic event. We’re not going to be out of the woods for a great number of days to come’.
Ken Pimlott warned that the death toll could rise further. “We are still impacted by five years of drought. These fires were driven by the critically dry fuel bed. We are literally looking at explosive vegetation,” he added.
California Gov Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties in Northern California.
The National Interagency Fire Center said at least 8,000 firefighters and support personnel and 124 aircraft are combating the fires.
With firefighters extended thin all through the state, federal agencies and additionally neighbouring Nevada and adjacent Washington state are helping with assets. Officials said 1,000 fire offices from San Diego to Oregon were helping.
At least 168 patients have been treated, many for burns and smoke inhalation, at three of its medical facilities in Napa and Sonoma regions as of Monday night, St. Joseph Health said.
It is learned that an additional 285 people were missing in Sonoma County as of Wednesday evening. There have been 600 total missing reports since the flames started, but 315 of those have been found safe, according to sheriff’s office.
The Santa Rosa Police Department on Wednesday evening arrested three people for plundering in the wake of the flames.
Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said mandatory evacuation orders still in place. Many residents in the affected areas have been warned not to return to their homes until further notice.
He said it is one of the worst natural disasters in California history.
There have been at least 7,000 people without power in Napa County while some 40,000 homes were without power in Sonoma County.
The Atlas fire has scorched 42,349 acres of land in Napa and Solano counties since the inferno started Sunday night, and only 3 percent of the blaze was contained Wednesday morning. The huge fire has destroyed 125 structures.
The Nuns fire has roasted 7,626 acres of land in Sonoma County since Sunday night, and it was only 1 percent contained Wednesday morning.
Then, the Patrick fire has consumed 9,523 acres of land in Napa County since Sunday night, and only 2 percent of it was contained Wednesday morning.
The Central LNU Complex fires- the Tubbs and Pocket fires- in Napa and Sonoma counties threatened more than 16,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The Tubbs fire has seared 28,000 acres of land in Napa County since Sunday night. The fire has annihilated 571 structures and is only 10 percent contained. As of Wednesday night, most of the deaths were due to Tubbs fire.
In the meantime, the Pocket fire has seared 5,000 acres of land in Sonoma County since Monday morning and is 0 percent contained.
The Cascade, La Porte, Lobo and McCourtney fires, known as Wind Complex fires in Nevada and Yuba counties, have burned around 16,982 acres of land, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The Canyon 2 fire has charred 8,000 acres of land in Southern California’s Orange County since the blazes began Monday morning. It was 45 percent contained Wednesday morning, as indicated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
At least 3,000 inhabitants were emptied in and around Anaheim as a large number of structures were debilitated by the flames.
The Cherokee fire has charred 7,500 acres of land in Butte County since Sunday night, and it was 40 percent contained Wednesday morning.