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California Wildfire Toll Rises To 40, Over 100,000 Evacuated

 Agencies |  2017-10-15 15:02:53.0  0  Comments

California Wildfire Toll Rises To 40, Over 100,000 Evacuated

California: The death toll from raging California's wildfires rose to 40 on Saturday, with more than 10,000 firefighters battling 16 large blazes and 100,000 people evacuated, the state's fire service said.

Around 335 square miles (864 square kilometers) of residential neighborhoods, forests and other property have been burned since Sunday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
"These fires have been extremely destructive, with 5,700 structures estimated to have been destroyed. While crews continue their search for missing people, the death toll has risen to 35," the service said in a statement.
"Red flag warnings remain in effect across northern California due to strong north winds, which have already increased fire activity. Those winds are forecast through the day and expected to decrease by late tonight."
Pre-dawn winds in Santa Rosa have complicated the effort, pushing a blaze known as the Nuns Fire in two separate directions and forcing thousands to evacuate their homes near Oakmont and northeast of the city of Sonoma, Cal Fire said.
Numerous churches across the region -- in Santa Rosa, Napa, Sonoma, Petaluma and Novato -- were housing victims of the wildfires and serving as resting places for firefighters, according to the Sacramento Bee newspaper.
California Governor Jerry Brown announced the White House had approved a request for direct aid for families in four counties, adding to emergency funds promised to the devastated winemaking areas of Napa and Sonoma.
Brown`s office said he and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris would meet community leaders and emergency management officials in the region later Saturday, with nine counties still under a state of emergency.
In Redwood Valley, a small town around 70 miles north of the Sonoma County fires that threatened world-renowned wineries, officials have been struggling with the gruesome task of naming victims. At least eight people were killed late Sunday by a wildfire that "swept through the area so fast it engulfed moving cars," the Bee reported, adding that only three of the bodies had been identified.
The settlement`s 2,300 residents have been begging for information about missing friends and relatives as rescuers scour the charred remains of dozens of homes.
The last week has been the deadliest for wildfires in California`s history, according to officials.
The Griffith Park fire in Los Angeles County in 1933 killed at least 29 people, and 25 people died in the 1991 Oakland Hills fire.
Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said Friday his department was continuing to track down people reported missing by family or friends. The Sonoma County Sheriff`s Department had received 1,308 missing persons reports so far and 1,052 people have been located, Giordano said.
Evacuation orders were in place for several towns in Napa and Sonoma, where hundreds of people have already lost their homes to the fast-moving infernos.

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