More Than 30 Dead, Hundreds Missing in California Wildfires
A series of wildfires continue throughout Northern California and the blazes are in full swing again as of Wednesday. The wildfires regained momentum on Wednesday after winds picked back up in the region, ravaging hills and vineyards alike and forcing more people to evacuate their homes. So far the death toll is over 30 people and rising. Hundreds of people still haven’t been accounted for and over 2,800 buildings and homes have been completely destroyed in Santa Rosa alone.
The Northern California region may be best known for its renowned wine-growing industry and now with the devastation of the Tubbs Fire that destroyed parts of Sonoma County, the industry’s future is uncertain. According to authorities, Tubbs is California’s deadliest wildfire since 2003 when 15 people were killed during the Cedar Fire in San Diego County. With hundreds of people still missing during the Tubbs fire, authorities are expecting the number of total deaths to rise. Part of the reason this fire has been so deadly is that it came at night. It was difficult to alert the public in the area of the fire where many people were sleeping when it began. Getting people evacuated from their homes was hard and some people were alerted of the fire by banging on the doors by deputies asking people to get out of their homes, a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said.
Hundreds remain missing. It is also difficult to communicate in the region in order to locate those missing. Tubbs through Sonoma County and Atlas Fire in Napa County are reported to be two of the biggest wine country fires, according to Cal Fire. Culminations of 17 large fires in the area lead to the destruction of thousands of properties and homes by Wednesday. Some of the fires have been contained, but a new round of wind picking up has given some fires new life. A sharp northern wind known as Diablo is expected to return to the area with gusts up to 40 mph and remain in the North Bay Area until sometime on Thursday. According to Cal Fire, a combined area of 70,000 acres had been damaged by Wednesday morning in wine country. Thousands had to be evacuated in the densely populated Northern California areas.
If the winds stay consistent in the area, it would make firefighting efforts to control the fires difficult. With dozens of California fire crews coming to the front lines, firefighters grew weary of their attempts to control the blazing flames by Wednesday morning. Over 25,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes from seven counties north of San Francisco and are seeking shelter and services where they can find them. Officials have reported it may take weeks before residents are able to return to what is left of their properties. Trump approved federal emergency assistance to the state of California requested by Governor Jerry Brown this week. The funds are provided to the state for immediate use in clearing debris, providing aid where needed and supplies to local-evacuation centers.