California Wildfires: At Least 17 Dead and More Than 150 Missing
According to California police, more than 150 people are missing in wildfires that have ravaged the state’s northern wine region.
At least 17 people are now confirmed dead and more than 2,000 buildings have been destroyed by the fires which broke out on October 8.
Eleven of the deaths have been in Sonoma County.
One of the worst affected towns there is Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco, where entire districts have been destroyed.
According to the Sonoma County sheriff’s office, 155 people were still unaccounted for, although that could be due to the chaotic pace of the evacuations.
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In neighboring Napa County, victims included 100-year-old Charles Rippey and his 98-year-old wife, Sarah, police said.
The wildfires are among the deadliest in California’s history and have sent smoke as far south as San Francisco, about 60 miles away.
According to officials, more than 17 fires had burned about 115,000 acres in the past 24 hours.
There was some good news when winds that had been fanning the flames eased, helping firefighters to bring some of the blazes under control.
In Santa Rosa, a Hilton hotel and a mobile home park were destroyed. Tens of thousands of Sonoma County residents have fled, authorities said.
At least four wineries had suffered “total or very significant losses”, Napa Valley Vintners said, with nine others reporting some damage to buildings or vineyards.
More than 91,000 homes and businesses are without power.
California Governor Jerry Brown declared states of emergency in Sonoma, Napa and five other counties.
President Donald Trump has also approved a disaster declaration, allowing federal emergency aid to be disbursed.