Thousands flee as wildfires ravage northern California; 11 killed


Posted on: October 10th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(ANAHEIM, Calif.) —  At least 11 people were killed and more than 100 others were injured on Monday as massive wildfires swept through parts of northern California, destroying 1,500 residences and buildings, authorities said.

Firefighters were battling 17 fires across multiple counties around the state as of late Monday night, authorities said. Intensified by strong winds, the fires charred about 90,000 acres of land, destroyed at least 1,500 buildings and forced nearly 20,000 residents to evacuate.

St. Joseph Health said about 170 patients have been treated, many for burns and smoke inhalation, at three of its hospitals, including two in Sonoma County, where at least seven people died of fire-related injuries. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said the number of fatalities could increase. Authorities have received more than 100 phone calls to report on people who were purportedly missing, according to one Sonoma County official.

Many residents have been warned not to return to their homes until further notice.

Two of the largest blazes, dubbed the Tubbs and Atlas Fires by authorities, burned a combined 52,0000 acres of land in Napa County, where authorities said there was no containment so far.

 

#TubbsFire [update] off Hwy 128 and Bennet Lane (Napa County) is now 27,000 acres. https://t.co/ZnxYZwlBUj pic.twitter.com/bXE7p1irlq

— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) October 10, 2017

 

In Anaheim, 1,000 firefighters were mobilized to fight a blaze that burned an estimated 6,000 acres and destroyed at least 24 homes and businesses. At least 3,000 residents were evacuated and more than 5,000 structures were threatened by the flames.

With the flames sweeping through entire communities, some area hospitals have been evacuated. Evacuations were also issued for surrounding counties that are under threat, according to the Napa Valley Sheriff’s Office.

Witnesses in Fountain Grove area near Santa Rosa said the flames there were so intense they melted the glass off of car and liquefied aluminum objects.

Jeff Okrepkie, a resident of Santa Rosa, said he fled his home of five years, knowing that it could very well be leveled once he returned. He seemed to be braced for he worst.

“All that good stuff, I’m never going to see it again,” Okrepkie told ABC’s San Francisco station KGO on Monday.

He said he and his wife tried their best to gather their most precious documents, photos and mementos, but it was impossible to grab everything in time.

Thirty-eight-year-old Mike Turpen said he was at a bar in the Glen Ellen area of Sonoma County when someone stormed in wearing a smoke mask and yelled “fire.” He said he rushed through flames in his Ford pickup truck with hopes of saving his home.

“It was like Armageddon was on,” Turpen told KGO. “Every branch of every tree was on fire,” he said, recalling his drive home.

Turpen said his yard, like those surrounding it, was scorched and still flaming in some spots, but he said he managed to keep his home from burning down.

The causes of the fires are unknown.

ABC News’ Rex Sakamoto and Marilyn Heck contributed to this report.

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