High Winds Expected as Northern CA Firefight Continues

Massive wildfires ripped through Napa and Sonoma counties early Monday destroying hundreds of homes and businesses on Monday

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Authorities have confirmed two more deaths from Northern California's wildfires, taking the total to 23.

Seventeen people have been confirmed dead with officials warning that this figure could rise.

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

At least 11 people have died and 1,500 buildings and homes have been destroyed because of the fires, according to The Washington Post.

More than 550 people were still reported unaccounted for in Sonoma County on Wednesday morning, said Jennifer Laroque, a county emergency operations center spokeswoman.

The entire town of Calistoga, a Napa Valley community of some 5,000 residents spared from advancing flames the first night of the fire, was ordered to evacuate on Wednesday evening, as the county sheriff's office warned that conditions had worsened as the so-called Tubbs Fire was burning nearby. Some 4,000 people are battling the fires, including crews from Nevada and the U.S. Forest Service. "These fires are changing by the minute in many areas".

The fires are raging across almost 69,000 hectares of several counties, world famous for vineyards and wineries, some of which were destroyed.

Kris Hammar, who lives in the city of Santa Rosa on the edge of a mandatory evacuation zone, had not yet evacuated but was monitoring maps, wind direction, and fire updates to see if she and her family should bolt. Appealing yesterday to President Donald Trump for federal aid, Governor Brown said the "devastation and disruption caused by these fires is extraordinary. Nor should we", Hill said. "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".

In the aftermath, the SF Business Times brings us this montage of mostly drone footage of Santa Rosa, and the burned areas around Coffey Park and the Fountaingrove neighborhood, including the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel, which was completely destroyed.

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. As we've learned since, whether the causes related to downed or sparking power lines or there were other factors involved, the little known and somewhat uncommon Diablo winds are clearly to blame for how big and how fast these fires became. They found their house standing on Monday but don't know when they will be able to go home for good.

Another Atlas Peak Road resident, Richard Clark, said Tuesday he still hadn't seen the fire's destruction and has no idea what will be left of his home.

"It's insane how in just a few hours a place I've recognized all my life I can't recognize", he said at a roadside food stop in the town of Sonoma.

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