Northern California wildfires: Emergency declared as 1500 structures burned

Hundreds of homes were destroyed in a wind-driven wildfire that swept through Santa Rosa California

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency over the wildfires devastating Northern California's beloved wine country as photos and videos from the region on social media offer a grim picture of what residents are facing.

He called the estimates of destroyed structures very conservative. "Trees were on fire like torches". Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox reported several injuries. The fires began popping up in Napa and Sonoma Counties first, but as the night went on, at least five counties are now affected. The fire has crossed Highway 101 in Santa Rosa and ignited structures west of the freeway.

The death occurred in the Mendocino County area, according to Cal-Fire, which declined to immediately release further details.

"The Fountaingrove Inn across the street from the mobile home park burned, as did the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, a Kmart store, a McDonald's, an Arby's, an Applebee's and a Mountain Mike's Pizza".

Napa County Public Information Kristi Jourdan (cq) told Wine Enthusiast, "We're now at zero containment for Atlas Peak".

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the Bay area.

"Warm temperatures, low humidity and locally strong winds will coincide with critically dry fuels", forecasters warned.




Evacuation centers in Sonoma County have opened at the Cloverdale Cirtus Fair, Sebastopol Vets Hall and Sonoma Valley High School, according to officials.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office says deputies were dispatched to help firefighters and California Highway Patrol officers with evacuations.

Health officials say wildfires can exacerbate chronic health problems such as asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

The fires have been burning in northern Sonoma County since early Monday morning. There were 30 to 40mph winds.

San Francisco authorities issued an air quality alert due to smoke from the blazes, warning residents to close windows, limit outdoor activities and keep pets inside, according to text messages sent by the city's emergency notification system. The city has been concerned about the Browns Valley area in the west and the Alta Heights area in the east and has bulldozers helping to put in fire lines.

A wind-whipped wildfire roared to life Sunday night, quickly growing to more than 200 acres on Atlas Peak near the Silverado County Club in Napa County, triggering dozens of evacuations.

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