More than 20,000 people have evacuated California’s wine country after fires that began on Sunday continue to rapidly spread.
At least nine are dead in the counties of Sonoma and Napa, three in Mendocino county and one in Yuba county. Several people are still missing.
The California Fire Service believe 115,000 acres have already been destroyed, with more to come. Hundreds of buildings have been damaged by the fires and at least 1500 razed. A warning from the National Weather Service is in place for the San Francisco bay area.
California Governor Jerry Brown released a statement about the severity of the incident. “These fires have destroyed structures and continue to threaten thousands of homes, necessitating the evacuation of thousands of residents,” it reads. Brown has now declared a state of emergency in eight counties.
Dry, hot temperatures, low humidity and strong winds have enabled the fires to move particularly quickly. “It was an inferno like you’ve never seen before,” Kenwood resident Marian Williams told The Guardian. “Trees were on fire like torches.”
Spokesperson for the California Fire Service, Amy Head, said they suspected the extreme fires were due to climate change. “It has been hotter, it has been drier, our fire seasons have been longer,” she said. “Fires are burning more intensely, which is a direct correlation to the climate changing.”
While fires swept across northern California, another fire moved through the Anaheim Hills, Los Angeles. This second fire passed a mere 24 kilometres from Disneyland, transforming the sky into an ominous orange.