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AM 760 KFMB - Talk Radio Station - San Diego, CA - At least 10 dead as fires burn in California win

Time:2017-10-10 09:53wine - Red wine life health Click:

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At least 10 dead as fires burn in California wine country Posted: Monday, October 9, 2017 11:15 AM EDT Updated: Monday, October 9, 2017 8:24 PM EDT

Trees burn behind houses in a residential area in Santa Rosa, Calif., Monday, Oct. 9, 2017.

Trees burn behind houses in a residential area in Santa Rosa, Calif., Monday, Oct. 9, 2017.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through California wine country Monday, killing at least 10 people, destroying 1,500 homes and businesses and sending thousands fleeing as flames raged unchecked through high-end resorts, grocery stores and tree-lined neighborhoods.

As he fled through the ember-strewn streets of his neighborhood in Santa Rosa, Jeff Okrepkie knew it was probably the last time he would see his home of the past five years standing.

His worst fears were confirmed Monday morning, when a friend sent him a photo of what was left: a smoldering heap of burnt metal and debris.

"We live in the valley, where it's concrete and strip malls and hotels and supermarkets," Okrepkie said. "The last thing you think is a forest fire is going to come and wipe us out."

At least 10 people died and two were seriously injured in the blazes that started on Sunday, fire officials said.

“Armageddon...it's just
gone. Everything is gone.” — Michael Everidge not only lost his home...his mom lost several in Glen Ellen. pic.twitter.com/cOqgBe5M6N

— Maria Medina (@mariaCBS5) October 9, 2017

The flames were burning "at explosive rates" because of 50 mph winds, said Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Fourteen large fires were burning, spread over a 200-mile region north of San Francisco from Napa in the south to Redding in the north. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties.

It was unusual to have so many fires take off at the same time, fire officials said, though October has generally been the most destructive time of year for California wildfires.

The ferocity of the flames forced authorities to focus primarily on getting people out safely, even if it meant abandoning structures to the fire. The fire area covered more than 100 square miles (160 square kilometers) over eight counties.

Elsewhere in the state, a fire churning through canyons in hilly neighborhoods of Orange County burned multiple homes and forced residents of about 1,000 homes to evacuate.

Some of the largest blazes were in Napa and Sonoma counties, home to dozens of wineries that attract tourists from around the world. They sent smoke as far south as San Francisco, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) away. What caused the blazes was not known.

Crews have no choice but to let some homes burn, not enough man power or water to stop the flames in Santa Rosa pic.twitter.com/o1KY2DlOFH

— Susie Steimle (@SusieSteimle) October 9, 2017

Fires also burned in Yuba, Butte and Nevada counties — all north of the state capital.

The inferno blackened miles along one of the main gateways into wine country, State Highway 12 into Sonoma County. Wooden fence posts and guard rails burned fiercely. Thick smoke roiled from one winery, JR Cohn.

The fires also damaged the Silverado Resort in Napa and a Hilton hotel in Santa Rosa, the largest city in the fire area, with a population of about 175,000.

Kim Hoe, a 33-year-old tech worker from Penang, Malaysia, was staying at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, which was gutted by flames. He said the power went out around 1 a.m., and he and his colleagues started packing up when someone knocked on the door and told them to run.

"We just had to run and run. It was full of smoke. We could barely breathe. It was dangerous," Hoe said.

We just managed to corral these 2 horses who got loose & are spooked by the approaching #AtlasFire. Samaritans rigged makeshift pen pic.twitter.com/Z5h0b0Ggs8

— Doug Sovern (@SovernNation) October 9, 2017

They returned in the morning to find the hotel had been destroyed along with most of their possessions. Hoe was relieved he had taken his passport and a few essential items.

Santa Rosa lost a Kmart, restaurants and an unknown number of businesses and homes. The blaze shut down schools and forced more than 200 patients at two city hospitals to evacuate.

Firefighters rushed to a state home for the severely disabled when flames reached one side of the center's sprawling campus in the historic Sonoma County town of Glen Ellen. Emergency workers leapt from their cars to aid in the evacuation. Crews got the more than 200 patients from the threatened buildings, one firefighter said, as flames closed within a few dozen feet.

Residents throughout the area described a headlong flight to safety through smoke and flames.

Mike Turpen, 38, was at a bar in Glen Ellen early Monday when a stranger wearing a smoke mask ran in and yelled that there was a fire. Turpen raced home through flames in his Ford F-250.

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