Santa Rosa fires destroy 1,500 homes and buildings, force evacuations in wine country

  

Santa Rosa fires destroy 1,500 homes and buildings, force evacuations in wine country

NAPA COUNTY, Calif. -- More than a dozen wind-whipped wildfires continue to rage across Wine Country, burning buildings, forcing hundreds of evacuations and injuring several people, reports CBS San Francisco.

On Monday, Gov. Brown issued a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties due to the effects of the wildfires.    

California's fire chief says at least 1,500 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed in wildfires that have ripped through the state's wine country.

He says numerous people have been injured and a number of residents are also missing as 14 large fires burn.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott say an estimated 20,000 people have been evacuated.

The Atlas Peak fire was the largest, quickly growing to more than 200 acres near Napa.

Meanwhile, a fire near Calistoga had burned several buildings, sent several people to the hospital to be treated for burns and prompted mandatory evacuations along several roads. 

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

The fires had stretched Sonoma and Napa counties firefighting resources to the breaking point. A call for mutual aid was issued to other Bay Area fire departments.

The National Weather Service had issued a red flag warning for the Bay Area early Sunday, predicting gusty winds and dry conditions. Gusts were predicted to be in the 30 mph range in the area of the fires.

The rapidly moving Atlas Peak fire was visible throughout Napa Valley, heavy smoke was draping over the region. Cal Fire said the blaze broke out at 9:50 p.m.

Authorities said the flames moved quickly toward the Silverado Trail - an area dotted with homes and wineries. Officials said the Silverado Country Club - site of this week's PGA Tour tournament - was evacuated.

Flames were also burning near the Domaine Carneros winery.

Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean said there was no containment of Atlas Peak fire at 12:30 a.m. Monday, with winds blowing at 28 mph and the humidity at just 12.

"Very, very volatile fire conditions," McLean said.

The Napa Valley Register was reporting that authorities were going house to house just north of Silverado Resort urging residents to leave. The paper said there were reports of at least three structures burning on Atlas Peak.

Napa officials said two evacuation centers had been opened - at the Crosswalk Community Church on First Street and at the Napa County Fairgrounds. In Calistoga, an evacuation center was opened at the Calistoga Fairgrounds.

A large plume of smoke from the fire drifted as far south of San Francisco and the East Bay, where residents were reporting the strong smell of smoke in the air.

The massive fire rekindled memories for longtime Napa Valley residents of the 1981 Atlas Peak wildfire. In that blaze, 23,000 acres were burned, $36 million was done in damage, 65 structures were destroyed and 11 people were injured.


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