Aerial view of a Santa Rosa, California neighborhood that was destroyed by wildfire, 11 October 2017. Photo: The Los Angeles Times

By Phil Willon, Paige St. John, Louis Sahagun, Chris Megerian, and Alene Tchekmedyian
12 October 2017

SANTA ROSA, California (The Los Angeles Times) – The death toll rose to 23 from the rapidly spreading firestorm in California wine country as officials issued more evacuations Thursday morning across the region.

With winds picking up, it was a tense night and early morning with an army of firefighter worked to keep the flames away from communities. Red-flag fire warnings were in place through Thursday afternoon.

All residents of Calistoga and Geyserville were ordered to leave their homes, two of numerous evacuation orders across the North Bay.

Napa city officials issued evacuation advisories for neighborhood s along the eastern edges of the city, warning residents to be prepared to leave. Just before 9 p.m., Santa Rosa police also issued an evacuation advisory for neighborhoods in the city’s eastern end, while other neighborhoods along the north end of the city are under mandatory evacuation orders.

“The fire is not an imminent threat, but the conditions may change quickly,” police said.

In Sonoma County alone, 25,000 people have evacuated, county spokesman Scott Alonso said late Wednesday.

“If there’s been a mandatory evacuation, you cannot go home,” Alonso said. “The area is unsafe.”

Meanwhile, Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies are working to track down 285 out of 600 people reported missing. The rest — 315 people — have already been found safe. Alonso asked people to notify officials if they have found their missing loved ones.

Power remained out at 40,000 homes across the county. […]

“We’re not going to be out of the woods for a great many days to come,” said Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott. The state is still feeling the effects of the drought despite a recent wet winter, and there’s “explosive vegetation” fueling the blazes.

“We’ve had big fires in the past,” Gov. Jerry Brown said. “This is one of the biggest.” […]

“This is nowhere near over. This is still very dangerous,” Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said Tuesday night. [more]

Whole towns evacuated as Northern California firestorm grows; at least 23 people dead, 285 missing

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