10 killed in California wildfires, 1,500 buildings destroyed

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San Francisco, Oct 10 (IANS) Massive wildfires raged across Northern California, killing at least 10 people, forcing up to 20,000 to evacuate and destroying over 1,500 buildings in one of the most destructive fire emergencies in the US states history.

Firefighters were battling blazes in eight counties on Monday since they started on late Sunday night fanned by wind gusts of more than 50 miles an hour, reports The New York Times.

In Santa Rosa city, the fire gutted a Hilton hotel and flattened a trailer park community.

Most of the trailers were levelled, leaving a smouldering debris field of household appliances, filing cabinets and the charred personal effects of more than 100 residents.

Janet Upton, a Deputy Director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said that at least 15 separate fires across the region had burned about 94,000 acres.

The victims comprised seven from Sonoma county, two from Napa county and one from Mendocino county, she added.

The property damage, already among the worst seen in a fire in California, was expected to increase. Santa Rosa authorities imposed a curfew starting at sunset, The New York Times reported.

California Governor Jerry Brown has issued emergency proclamations for Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma and Yuba Counties, saying the fires had damaged critical infrastructure and threatened thousands of homes.

He also asked President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster.

“This is really serious. It’s moving fast. The heat, the lack of humidity and the winds are all driving a very dangerous situation and making it worse.

“It’s not under control by any means. But we’re on it in the best way we know how,” Brown said in a Monday evening press conference.

The worst fires in Northern California tend to hit in October, when dry conditions prime them to spread fast and far as heavy winds, known as north winds or diablo winds, buffet the region.

Late September, about 1,000 people in Southern California were evacuated due to wildfires.

–IANS

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