SONOMA, Calif. – The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):
Firefighters gained some ground on a blaze burning in the heart of California’s wine country but face another tough day ahead with low humidity and high winds expected to return.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLean says a blaze burning in Sonoma and Napa counties is 22 percent contained Friday.
Thousands of firefighters are battling 21 wildfires spanning more than 300 square miles (777 square kilometers) and more crews are pouring in to help.
McLean tells Oakland television station KTVU that the blazes grew little overnight thanks to favorable weather but warns gusty winds and higher temperatures are forecast Friday.
Since igniting Sunday in spots across eight counties, the blazes have killed 31 people and destroyed at least 3,500 homes and businesses.
Pope Francis says he’s praying for all those who have lost loved ones or are searching for them in the wildfires devastating California.
Francis sent a telegram of condolence Friday to San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez.
In it, he offered his “heartfelt solidarity and his prayers for all those affected by this disaster.”
He also encouraged emergency personnel who are helping out. In the telegram, signed by the Vatican secretary of state, Francis said he was particularly keeping in his prayers “those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing.”
Northern California communities have been battered from wildfires that are nowhere near over.
They’re trying to save or recover what’s left of their homes, find lost loved ones or mourn their dead, with the constant threat of the fires still looming.
The death toll climbed to 31 on Thursday, making it the deadliest week of wildfires in California history.
Hundreds more are injured or missing.
In areas where they were able, cadaver dogs were sniffing through the ashes.
A total of 21 fires spanning at least 300 square miles (777 square kilometers) are burning, most of them less than 10 percent contained.
Evacuees fled to friends’ houses, shelters and even beaches.