California wildfires: 180 people still unaccounted for; 2,000 structures burned

Oct. 11 (UPI) — The Northern California wildfires were still barely contained early Wednesday, as officials say the death toll is at 17 and at least 2,000 structures — including many homes — have been destroyed.

As of Wednesday, at least 180 people were still missing, authorities said.

News of the additional deaths followed orders for new evacuations Tuesday night in Sonoma Valley and the Geyserville area, where residents were urged to leave. More than 180 people are still reported missing in Sonoma County alone.

Fifty people who had been unaccounted for, though, were found on Tuesday.

“People were in bed, there was no time; some of the folks were sleeping at home in bed and had no idea because there was minutes — seconds warning,” Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said in a news conference.

“This is just pure devastation.”

The only fires that have been 100 percent contained so far are the Jones Lake Fire and Blue Fire. Crews are struggling to get a handle on the two biggest blazes, the Atlas and Tubbs fires. The Atlas Fire is only at 3 percent containment, Cal Fire said.

“Though our containment numbers haven’t gone up just yet, we’ve at least been able to hold these fires and keep them at their current acreage,” a Cal Fire spokesperson said.

The estimated losses of homes, businesses and other buildings continues to grow, jumping from an estimated 1,500 to 2,000. Officials fear that the death toll will rise as well.

All schools in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley have been canceled for the rest of the week, including classes at Sonoma Valley University.

About 20,000 people evacuated their homes Sunday and Monday. Shelters are filling up quickly, as 11 shelters are full but 25 still have space for evacuees.


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