At least 17 people have been killed in California due to wildfires which have so far damaged over 2,000 residences and other buildings, authorities say.
Fires have been raging in multiple counties as of Tuesday, charring more than 115,000 acres of land and forcing nearly 20,000 residents to evacuate.
The biggest fires were reported from Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, where flames were sweeping through the lush, picturesque landscape. Just in Sonoma and Napa, the Tubbs and Atlas fires have burned 52,000 acres of land.
The remains of fire damaged homes after an out of control wildfire moved through the area, October 9, 2017, in Glen Ellen, California. (Getty Images)
In Anaheim, fires schorched an estimated 6,000 acres and wreaked havoc on at least 24 homes and businesses.
At least 183 people have been unaccouted for since Sunday when the fires first broke out, according to one official in Sonoma County where at least 11 people died of fire-related injuries.
St. Joseph Health said nearly 170 patients have been treated for burns and smoke inhalation in Sonoma County.
High winds and dry conditions have exacerbated the situation, and according to Cal Fire, strong winds led to “extreme rates of spread and volatile burning conditions.”
A fuel truck sits in a stag in area as the Nuns Fire burns in the hills behind it on October 10, 2017, in Kenwood, California. (Photo by AFP)
Sonoma County Sgt. Spencer Crum said Tuesday, “The night before this, we had 60 mph winds, which is the reason why you have such devastation here.”
At least 3,000 residents were forced to leave the area in and around Anaheim, with officials saying that over 5,000 structures were being threatened by the flames.
“We always thought the alert system would give us
time, but there was no notice, no warning,” said Maureen Grinnell, 77, who lived in the hills north of Napa. “I was watching a movie with my 19-year-old granddaughter and I smelled smoke, and I looked out the window to see flames approaching.”
Officials have been forced to evacuate even some hospitals due to flames which were engulfing certain areas. Also, residents living in surrounding counties, which were under threat, have also been ordered to flee their homes.