Widespread devastation is occurring throughout Northern California. An onslaught of wildfires broke out last week and are spreading at an alarming rate. At least 11 people are dead, and thousands more are evacuating. The raging infernos are swallowing up properties from wineries to trailer parks, threatening small rural towns and urban subdivisions.
Significantly, more than 80,000 acres have burned. The two largest fires are both in Napa County. The Tubbs Fire has burned 27,000 acres, and the Atlas Fire is at 25,000 acres. So far, there is zero containment on those fires. In total, more than 15 fires are raging across a 200-mile region.
Moreover, in Sonoma and Napa counties, more than 90,000 people are without power. Smoke from the fires is reaching San Francisco, 60 miles away. Residents are fleeing their homes, as the burning embers and ash fall around them. In the Fountain Grove area, the flames are hot enough to melt the glass in car windows.
What were once aluminum wheels, are now just piles of smoldering liquid.
In the North Bay, fires are decimating homes and businesses. More than 1,500 structures are lost. Numerous roads and schools are closing, with some schools providing shelter for evacuees. Fearing the worst, at least two major hospitals are evacuating patients to safety. Airlines are postponing flights, warning that more cancellations are possible.
Looting Vacant Homes
Making matters worse, looters are invading homes in Santa Rosa. One woman, whose home was spared from the fire, was later robbed. Santa Rosa police are confirming that several other homes have also been targeted by thieves. Officers from several different cities, including Oakland, are coming to help SRPD protect vulnerable communities.
Consequently, firefighters are struggling to contain the fires due to high winds and dry conditions. Cooler temperatures are providing some assistance, but the fires continue to rage as of Tuesday morning. Chief Ken Pimlott of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says communities are being “overrun,” as the fires overwhelm his crews.
Incidentally, the wildfires are similar to those that burned over a million acres in Montana last month. Damage from the all the blazes will most likely reach well into the billions. Governor Jerry Brown is declaring a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma, and Yuba counties, making it easier to obtain federal aid.