DEADLY WILDFIRES SWEEP THROUGH CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRYDate: 2017-10-10
Parts of California's wine region are being ravaged by fast-spreading wildfires that have killed at least 10 people.
After mass evacuations, a state of emergency was declared in northern areas with over 1,500 properties destroyed by wildfire.
Approximately 20,000 people fled to Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties in an attempt to escape the worst wildfires in the state's history.
Such wildfires are more common in southern California. However, a combination of dry weather and strong winds have fueled this destruction in the north.
"These fires have destroyed structures and continue to threaten thousands of homes, necessitating the evacuation of thousands of residents," said Governor Jerry Brown when declaring the emergency.
According to BBC Weather, there is little sign that the weather in the coming days will bring relief as more dry conditions are expected without rain.
Details about the death of seven people in Sonoma were not immediately released, but county sheriff Rob Giordano stated that he expected the death toll to rise.
"There is a lot of burned homes and a lot of burned areas, so it's just logical that we're gonna find more people," he said.
In addition, two other people have died in Napa country and one in Mendocino County when thousands of acres burned in one valley. Dozens of vineyard workers were reportedly airlifted to safety overnight.
Wineries belonging to the rich and famous were abandoned, including one owned by Dave Matthews, which was closed and at risk of being burned to the ground, staff said. A similar situation also applied to the nearby Francis Ford Coppola Winery.
We are yet to confirm how the fires started on Sunday night, but such blazes are particularly fast-spreading due to a combination of high winds, low humidity and hot, dry weather.
Wind gusts in excess of 50mph (80km/h) were reported when 15 separate wildfires burnt across some 73,000 acres, according to the state fire service.
Ken Moholt-Siebert, a vineyard owner, described the suddenness of the disaster: "There was no wind, then there would be a rush of wind and it would stop. Then there would be another gust from a different direction. The flames wrapped around us," he told LA Times.
According to the San Fransisco Chronicle, these fires come in a year of record-setting geat and persistent drought.