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California Wildfires Kill at Least 13 in Wine Country

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At least 13 people have been killed by fast-spreading fires that are ravaging parts of California’s wine region.

Mass evacuations have been ordered in the region after 1,500 properties were destroyed and a state of emergency was declared in northern areas.

About 20,000 people fled from Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties in response to some California’s worst-ever wildfires.

Such fires are more common in southern California but a combination of dry weather and strong winds has fuelled the destruction in the north.

On October 10, Cal Fire officials said that 17 wildfires in nine counties have burned more than 115,000 acres in just the past 12 hours.

California Governor Jerry Brown said: “These fires have destroyed structures and continue to threaten thousands of homes, necessitating the evacuation of thousands of residents.”

Image source Wikimedia

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On October 9, the governor appealed to President Donald Trump in a five-page letter to declare a major disaster and send federal emergency aid to the fire-ravaged state.

Meanwhile, in southern California, a separate wildfire burnt 24 homes or other buildings in the wealthy Anaheim Hills area of Orange County, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate.


The fires – considered among the deadliest in state history – have sent smoke as far south as San Francisco, located about 60 miles away.

A new fire is reportedly burning near the Oakmont area of Santa Rosa, a city that has already been devastated by the blazes.

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed in the city by flames so hot that glass melted on cars.

Details of how the seven people died in Sonoma were not immediately available, but country sheriff Rob Giordano said he expected the death toll to rise.

“There is a lot of burned homes and a lot of burned areas, so it’s just logical that we’re gonna find more people,” he said.

Two people also died in Napa county and one in Mendocino county when thousands of acres burned in one valley.

Sonoma County officials said they had received more than 150 missing-person reports by Tuesday.

Dozens of vineyard workers were reportedly airlifted to safety overnight.

Wineries belonging to the rich and famous were abandoned. One belonging to musician Dave Matthews was closed and at risk of being burned to the ground, staff said, as was the nearby Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

The vine harvest is already under way and many of the grapes have been picked.

It is not yet known how the fires started on October 8, but such blazes are particularly fast-spreading because of a combination of 60mph winds, low humidity and hot, dry weather.