Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Wildfires creating 'hellscape' in Northern California

Wildfires creating 'hellscape' in Northern California

Sonoma County is the largest producer of California's Wine Country region, which also includes Napa, Santa Rosa, Mendocino, and Lake counties.

Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant spoke to the LA Times Tuesday morning, saying, "Though our containment numbers haven't gone up just yet we've at least been able to hold these fires and keep them at their current acreage".

Other counties are sending firefighters and aid to California's wine country, and more help is expected to come.

The ferocity of the flames forced authorities to focus primarily on getting people out safely, even if it meant abandoning structures to the fire.

The blazes are sweeping through one of the state's most scenic and treasured destinations, threatening the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.

The wind-driven fire raced through tinder-dry hills but Orange County fire Capt. Larry Kurtz says the winds have died and temperatures are cooling.

The US National Weather Service issued a warning for the San Francisco area, noting that "any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly".

Wildfires have burned 115,000 acres in California.

In neighbouring Napa County, victims included 100-year-old Charles Rippey and his 98-year-old wife, Sarah, police said.

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"It was an inferno like you've never seen before", said Marian Williams, who caravanned with neighbors before dawn as one of the wildfires reached the vineyards and ridges at her small Sonoma County town of Kenwood.

"At this time, we simply do not know how many evacuees we have, we do not know how many structures have been effected", said California Assembly member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry at a briefing by Napa County officials Tuesday. They recalled all the possessions they had left behind and were lost.

Firefighters were battling dozens of fires across multiple counties in the state as of Tuesday, authorities said.

Residents who gathered at emergency shelters and grocery stores on Monday said they were shocked by the speed and ferocity of the flames.

Most of the damage was in Santa Rosa where the fires destroyed homes, melted the glass off of cars and turned wheels into liquid, according to the AP.

Governor Brown in April declared the official end of the state's drought that lasted more than five years.

Some vintners didn't have details about damage because they'd been evacuated and couldn't yet return to their properties, Mr Rannekleiv said.

The fires, which began Sunday night, have already been characterized as "among the most destructive in state history". He said the power went out around 1am, and he and his colleagues started packing up when someone knocked on the door and told them to run.

Treasury, which owns and operates about 3750 hectares of vineyards in the U.S., said most of its grapes had already been picked, and just over 10 per cent of the total vintage was still to be harvested in Sonoma and Napa.

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