Wildfires tear through California wine country; 20000 evacuated


(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) Trees burn behind houses in a residential area in Santa Rosa, Calif., Monday, Oct. 9, 2017.

Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann said the fires had burned more than 68 square miles (176 sq. kilometers).

Early Monday morning, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department said fires had also erupted in Santa Rosa, Windsor and Sebastopol.

Authorities have implemented forced evacuations in several rural neighborhoods and worked to clear out hospitals and senior centers in northwestern Santa Rosa.

In video posted on Twitter specialists were seen wheeling a patient in a healing center bed out of Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Santa Rosa to security. Mandatory evacuations are in effect in several areas and almost 20 shelters have opened from Cloverdale to Petaluma and from Guerneville to Sonoma. The Los Angeles Times reported the fire's burned 35,000 acres.

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The Tubbs fire broke out near the northern end of the city, forcing the evacuations of hundreds of homes as well as two hospitals. The fires have charred tens of thousands of acres. Windy and dry conditions were making it hard for firefighters to battle the blaze.

"Fire has burned all the way through the Silverado Country Club area", Biermann said in a reference to the Silverado Resort and Spa. The effects of these devastating fires could be felt as far away as San Francisco, where officials told citizens to keep doors and windows close and limit outdoor activity. The Redwood Complex Fire injured one person in Mendocino County. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Sonoma, Napa and Yuba counties because of multiple fires in the areas.

More than a dozen wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through California wine country Monday, destroying at least 1,500 homes and businesses and sending an estimated 20,000 people on a headlong flight to safety through smoke and flames.

In recent memory, there hasn't been anything like the wildfires now burning in these relatively densely populated areas of the North Bay, and several cities and towns are likely to be assessing damages for weeks to come, and rebuilding for years to come, including Santa Rosa and Glen Ellen.

Pimlott said most of the fires started at about 10 p.m. Sunday and their causes are under investigation. The San Mateo County Sheriff's Department issued a notice to residents to expect a strong smell of smoke from the fires.