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Thousands flee and more evacuated as wildfires DESTROY California — California fires MAP

12 October 2017

Wildfires raging across broad swaths of northern California have hospitalised hundreds, and charred about 170,000 acres of land, damaged or destroyed at least 3,500 structures and forced almost 20,000 residents to evacuate, local media reports said.

The Sonoma County sheriff's officials also said 380 people were still listed missing in wine country.

The largest fires were in Northern California's Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, filling the picturesque landscape of the state's wine country with charred rubble and clouds of smoke.

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

Authorities say at least 10 are dead, at least 100 are injured and at least 1,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed.

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In Sonoma, 11 people are reported to have died.

Residents of the Pacific Heights area behind Molsberry's Market in Larkfield were ordered to evacuate around 4:45 p.m., and residents of the Ida Clayton area of Geyserville from state Highway 128 to the Napa County line were ordered to evacuate as a fire spread north. In Mendocino County, the Redwood Complex Fire was at 21,000 acres with no containment level.

The video below, shot by two guys who woke up outside the perimeter of the fire in Santa Rosa and drove around looking at the destruction, includes footage of a gun store (around the 8:27 mark and after) where bullets were exploding after the building burned to the ground.

John Van Dyke, standing in his pyjamas near the 101 Freeway in Santa Rosa, watched a hillside in flames from the Tubbs fire. "But because there is fire on the ground, because there are areas still smoldering, because there are still embers unattended, this wind could feed" additional fires, "sending those embers out in the fuels to kick up again".

Black tells the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that most of the Oakmont area was evacuated earlier in the day due to rampant wildfires.

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Napa Valley College will also be closed through the end of the week and its gym remains open as a shelter for evacuees from the fires.

At least 2000 homes have been destroyed. "We've had hurricanes three weeks in a row, an natural disaster in Mexico City, and then this fire".

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.

For all the lesser foliage that flourished earlier this year, many trees didn't revive - they need a lot more moisture - and a bark-beetle infestation left a swath of dried trunks vulnerable to sparks.

McCallister said that some of those neighbors are the reason she and her husband were able to grab necessities and get out.

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"I want to go up and see what's there", he said, "and I don't want to go, you know?"

Thousands flee and more evacuated as wildfires DESTROY California — California fires MAP