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10 Dead in California Wildfires

10 Dead in California Wildfires
Rudy Habibe, from Puerto Rico, stands by the burning Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel, where he was a guest, in Santa Rosa, California on Monday. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

By    |   Monday, 09 October 2017 04:51 PM EDT

Officials said Monday the death toll in the fast-moving wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres in California's wine country since Sunday has climbed to at least 10.

More than 1,500 buildings have been destroyed and roughly 20,000 people have been evacuated with 14 fires seemingly burning at will in counties such as Napa, Sonoma, and Yuba.

The fires broke out late Sunday and quickly expanded from 600 acres to more than 75,000.

Seven of the deaths occurred in Sonoma County, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, while two happened in Napa County and one more was in Mendocino County.

The flames were burning "at explosive rates" because of 50 mph winds, said Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fires were spread over a 200-mile region north of San Francisco from Napa in the south to Redding in the north. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Yuba Counties.

It was unusual to have so many fires take off at the same time, fire officials said, though October has generally been the most destructive time of year for California wildfires.

The ferocity of the flames forced authorities to focus primarily on getting people out safely, even if it meant abandoning structures to the fire. The fire area covered more than 100 square miles (160 square kilometers) over eight counties.

Elsewhere in the state, a fire churning through canyons in hilly neighborhoods of Orange County burned multiple homes and forced residents of about 1,000 homes to evacuate.

Some of the largest blazes were in Napa and Sonoma counties, home to dozens of wineries that attract tourists from around the world. They sent smoke as far south as San Francisco, about 60 miles away. What caused the blazes was not known.

Fires also burned in Yuba, Butte, and Nevada counties — all north of the state capital.

The inferno blackened miles along one of the main gateways into wine country, State Highway 12 into Sonoma County. Wooden fence posts and guard rails burned fiercely. Thick smoke roiled from one winery, JR Cohn.

The fires also damaged the Silverado Resort in Napa and a Hilton hotel in Santa Rosa, the largest city in the fire area, with a population of about 175,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Newsfront
More than 1,500 buildings have been destroyed and roughly 20,000 people have evacuated because 14 fires are burning in eight counties, including Napa, Sonoma, and Yuba.
wildfires, california, san francisco, napa
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2017-51-09
Monday, 09 October 2017 04:51 PM
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