Death Toll Rises as Wildfires Torch California's Wine Country
The death toll has risen to at least 11 people as wind-driven wildfires burned out of control in California's wine country.
The fire, which ignited around 10 p.m. Sunday, exploded from 200 acres to more than 68 square miles by noon Monday.
The newspaper notes that entire blocks in the Fountaingrove area of Santa Rosa were leveled by the so-called Tubbs fire, and the city’s new fire station, Fire State 5, was destroyed. The fire also burned Santa Rosa’s historic round barn, the city's K-mart, the Santa Rosa Hilton Sonoma Hotel and destroyed homes at the Journey's End Mobile Home Park.
"There was no wind, then there would be a rush of wind and it would stop," resident Ken Moholt-Siebert told the Los Angeles Times. "Then there would be another gust from a different direction. The flames wrapped around us. I was just being pelted with all this smoke and embers. It was just really fast."
Dave Shew, a Cal Fire spokesman, told SFGate a number of Napa Valley wineries may have burned.
“This is an incredibly fast-moving and dynamic fire. We had real severe winds last night when this started. So it burned very, very fast,” Shew said.
Fueled by high winds, the fire branched out quickly. Windsor Fire Chief Jack Piccinini said all of Sonoma County's fire resources are being used and they're waiting for reinforcements, the Associated Press reports, but resources are stretched thin with fires burning in Napa, Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties.