Sarah Jannings

CALIFORNIA There have been fires ravaging California’s wine country since Sunday night, that are all part of an outbreak of blazes stretching almost the entire length of the state.  Winds are expected to pick back up, threatening to spread wildfires that already have killed 17 people, destroyed hundreds of buildings, and forced thousands of evacuations.  

Most of the fires were ignited Sunday, driven by winds of up to 79 mph and dry conditions. The winds died down early this week, but gusts around 40 mph are possible on Wednesday, and no rain is in forecast for the next few days.  

Roads are still blocked by the police and fires are still raging across broad swaths of Northern California.  More than 20,000 people had been ordered to evacuate, as of Tuesday night.    The wildfires have burned nearly 170,000 acres in California. The largest fires were in Northern California’s Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties, filling the landscape of the state’s wine country with charred rubble and clouds of smoke.  

Most of the current California wildfires are in the North, including a large one in Mendocino County, and several others in the Sierra Nevada, the north coast, and the San Joaquin Valley.  In the Anaheim Hills (in Southern California), a fire broke out on Monday, and burned through thousands of acres and about a dozen homes, sending smoke pouring into Orange County and closing the 91 freeway (the main route into the county from the East).  

On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence visited the California Office of Emergency Services to announce that President Trump had approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for a major disaster declaration and ordered federal aid to help the state in recovery efforts.  With large areas still under evacuation orders, frustrated residents congregated at roadblocks on Tuesday, pleading with police officers to let them through to their homes.  

The biggest blaze, the Tubbs fire, reduced cars and homes into burnt piles of ash and rubble in parts of Santa Rosa, a city of about 175,000, roughly 50 miles Northwest of San Francisco.  That fire has burned 28,000 acres and destroyed at least 571 structures between Santa Rosa and the Calistoga area on Tuesday, making it one of the top 15 most destructive fires recorded in California history.  

¨The wildfires burn a lot of land and it is not good, especially since they are burning wine country which is good land.  Wildfires are pretty common and this is definitely worse than in the past¨ said John Mansfield, a sophomore who actually recently moved here from California.

Causing extreme damage and in some cases even death, the California wildfires continue to spread and the citizens can only hope that their own houses will be spared.  

¨Firefighters are handling the situation and it will eventually get better¨ said Mansfield.  


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