Left Menu
Development News Edition

California residents again face fire anguish as homes burn

Northern California's wine country was on fire again Monday as strong winds fanned flames in the already scorched region, destroying homes and prompting overnight evacuation orders for more than 50,000 people.

PTI | Sanfrancisco | Updated: 29-09-2020 05:55 IST | Created: 29-09-2020 05:55 IST
California residents again face fire anguish as homes burn

Northern California's wine country was on fire again Monday as strong winds fanned flames in the already scorched region, destroying homes and prompting overnight evacuation orders for more than 50,000 people. Residents of the Oakmont Gardens senior living facility in Santa Rosa boarded brightly lit city buses in the darkness overnight, some wearing bathrobes and using walkers. They wore masks to protect against the coronavirus as orange flames marked the dark sky.

The fire threat forced Adventist Health St. Helena hospital to suspend care and transfer all patients elsewhere. The fires that began Sunday in the famed Napa-Sonoma wine country about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of San Francisco came as the region nears the third anniversary of deadly wildfires that erupted in 2017, including one that killed 22 people. Just a month ago, many of those same residents were evacuated from the path of a lightning-sparked fire that became the fourth-largest in state history.

“Our firefighters have not had much of a break, and these residents have not had much of a break,” said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire. Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin evacuated her home in the Oakmont community of Santa Rosa about 1 a.m. She is rebuilding a home damaged in the 2017 fires. Gorin told the San Francisco Chronicle that she is numb, and the situation feels surreal.

“It's like God has no sympathy, no empathy for Sonoma County,” she said. More than 53,000 people in Sonoma and Napa counties have been evacuated in the latest inferno, one of 27 major fire clusters burning across the state, said Berlant. Many more have been warned that they might have to flee, even though officials expect winds to ease into Tuesday.

The Glass Fire broke out before 4 a.m. Sunday and merged with two other fires to scorch 17 square miles (44 square kilometers) as of early Monday. Officials did not have an estimate on the number of homes destroyed or burned, but the blaze engulfed the Chateau Boswell Winery in St. Helena and at least one five-star resort. Logan Hertel of Santa Rosa used a garden hose to fight flames at a neighbor's house in the Skyhawk neighborhood until firefighters could relieve him.

“Seems like they got enough on their hands already. So I wanted to step in and put out the fire," Hertel said. Dominic Wiggens, who lives in the same neighborhood, evacuated but returned later Monday. His home was still standing, but many others were gone. “It's so sad," he said.

Pacific Gas & Electric was inspecting its equipment as it sought to restore power to more than 100,000 customers who had it turned off in advance of gusty winds and in areas with active fire zones. The utility's equipment has caused previous disasters, including the 2018 Camp Fire that killed 85 people and devastated the town of Paradise in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Evacuations were also ordered in Shasta County as the Zogg Fire spread over 23 square miles (59 square kilometers). Residences are widely scattered in the forested area in the far northern part of the state. The region was torched just two years ago by the deadly Carr Fire — infamously remembered for producing a huge tornado-like fire whirl.

The causes of the new fires were under investigation. Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, said 2020 has been challenging.

“The silver lining to it is that people who live in California become more prepared, they're more aware, they know these events take place and we're seeing a citizenry that does get it and is working hard to be prepared,” he said. Numerous studies in recent years have linked bigger wildfires in America to climate change from the burning of coal, oil and gas. Scientists say climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable.

The latest fires erupted as a giant ridge of high pressure settled over the West, producing powerful gusts blowing from the interior toward the coast while slashing humidity levels and raising temperatures. So far in this year's historic fire season, more than 8,100 California wildfires have killed 26 people, scorched 5,780 square miles (14,970 square kilometers), and destroyed more than 7,000 buildings.

Most of the losses occurred after a frenzy of dry lightning strikes in mid-August ignited a massive outbreak of fires. Fire worries were developing Monday across Southern California, although it was unclear how strong the predicted Santa Ana winds would become. Heat and extreme dryness were also expected to create problems.

Conditions were also hot, dry and windy in parts of Arizona, where the Sears Fire in Tonto National Forest north of Phoenix has grown to more than 14 square miles (36 square kilometers) since it erupted Friday. Authorities reported zero containment..


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

New farm bills in India: Focusing on farms or farmers?

... ...

Kenya’s COVID-19 response: Chaos amid lack of information

Confusing numbers and scanty information on how effective curfews and lockdowns have been in breaking transmission have amplified coordination and planning challenges in Kenyas response to COVID-19. Without accurate data, it is impossible t...

Farkhad Akhmedov: Calculating the price of impunity from the law

In insistences such as the battle over the Luna, Akhmedov has resorted to extreme legal machinations to subvert the High Courts decision and keep his assets from being seized. ...

Guinea’s elections hearken back to the autocracy and violence of its past

... ...

Videos

Latest News

Romanian companies to benefit from EUR 190m of new private-sector EIB

Hundreds of companies across Romania will benefit from EUR 190 million of new private-sector European Investment Bank financing to support sectors most impacted by the economic, social and health impact of COVID-19.Enabling companies across...

Pak-backed tribal invasion of Kashmir first attack on independent India: Culture min

The Pakistan-backed tribal invasion of Kashmir on October 22, 1947 was the first attack on independent India in which Pakistani terrorists and Army inflicted dreadful torture on people, Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel said on Thu...

Adani to take over airport ops at Mangaluru by Oct 31, Lucknow by Nov 2, Ahmedabad by Nov 11: AAI

The Adani group would be taking over the operations, management and development of the airports at Mangaluru, Lucknow and Ahmedabad from the AAI by October 31, November 2 and November 11, respectively, said an official press release on Thur...

BTC to be under Assam governor's rule till polls

The Bodoland Territorial Council BTC will continue to function under the governor till the elections are held, the Assam government decided on Thursday. A meeting of the Council of Ministers, chaired by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, ap...

Give Feedback