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Death toll in California wildfire rises to 21
12 October 2017, 06:25 | Erica Roy
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Steady winds with gusts up to 45mph (72kph) with almost non-existent humidity are expected to descend on the areas north of San Francisco where at least 23 people have died and at least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed. "Thousands have been made homeless". Around 560 people have been reported missing, although the hope is that they are unable to get in touch since nearly all communication systems are down.
"It's one of the things you have to work through - you get that relief but then you have that follow-on fall where conditions are ripe for fires to be extreme", said Mike Anderson, the California state climatologist in Sacramento.
"This is a serious, critical, catastrophic event. Shattering the previous record", says Cal Fire - the shortened name for the state of Forestry and Fire Protection agency.
He warned that the death toll could rise further.
"These destructive winds, along with millions of trees weakened by years of drought and recent renewed vegetation growth from winter storms, all contributed to some trees, branches and debris impacting our electric lines across the North Bay". "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".
The 8,000-plus Cal Fire crews have been working nonstop since the blazes first broke out Sunday night and are committed to the "constant battle", he said.
A second mixed team, led by a Santa Barbara city battalion chief, consists of two County Fire engines, one Santa Barbara city engine, one Santa Maria engine and one Vandenberg Air Force Base engine.
Some 5,000 people from the historic town of Calistoga, situated in northern Napa County, were being evacuated.
Police pounded on his door in the mobile home park, telling him to evacuate.
This photo appeared several times on social media.
Among the victims were Charles Rippey, 100, and his wife, Sara, 98, who had recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary and who died on Sunday at their home in Napa. "We had all these people who were already confused and now they were in an unfamiliar place with all this frenzy going on around them".
In the hills above Santa Rosa, resident Peter Lang was forced to choose between saving his home or more than 1,000 animals that were trapped at his Safari West wildlife preserve, the Press Democrat newspaper reported.
But Dave Larson, of Glen Ellen, Calif., sneaked into his destroyed neighborhood to look for his cats and to see if any of his neighbors' homes still stood.
At least four wineries have suffered "total or very significant losses", Napa Valley Vintners said, with nine others reporting some damage to buildings or vineyards.
Earlier, California Governor Jerry Brown had requested federal assistance to combat the deadly fires and had also declared an emergency in eight counties, including Napa and Sonoma.
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At least 17 people have been killed as a result of the fires, and more than 180 people have been reported missing. More than 20,000 people were ordered to evacuate their residences in order to evade potential danger.