More than 100 people have been reported missing in one county in Northern California as wildfires ravage the state.
Scott Alonso, communications director for Sonoma County, said family and friends scrambling to locate loved ones have made calls to a special hotline. It is possible that many or most of the missing are safe but simply cannot be reached because of the widespread loss of mobile phone services and other communications.
The firestorm consuming the state has killed at least 10 people, seven of whom were in Sonoma County.
At least 100 other people have been injured, two of them critically. One has been transferred to a burns unit with significant burns. Fifteen of the injuries are described as moderate and the rest are minor.
Some 1,500 homes have been destroyed.
More than 5,000 homes in Southern California were evacuated on Monday as fire crews struggled to battle a rapidly growing brush fire. The blaze has scorched 6,000 acres and destroyed dozens of structures in Orange County. Plumes of smoke were visible over Disneyland and officials issued air quality warnings for parts of Los Angeles County. An Anaheim police spokesman said there is no containment so far.
Former San Francisco Giants pitcher Noah Lowry and his family were among those who had to flee from the ferocious series of wildfires in Northern California. He told the Associated Press that he, his wife, his two daughters and his two-week-old son had to leave their home in Santa Rosa in a matter of minutes as the flames approached.
Lowry said he “can’t shake hearing people scream in terror as the flames barrelled down on us”. He said he ran into a closed US 101 freeway because the flames had jumped it. But he and his family were able to get away in time and get to a friend’s house where they are staying.
Lowry, who pitched for the Giants from 2003 and 2007, now owns an outdoor sporting goods store in Santa Rosa. US Vice President Mike Pence said during a visit to California that the federal government stands ready to provide any and all assistance to the state as it deals with the wildfires.
His remarks came at an event in the Sacramento area on Monday night after Governor Jerry Brown, who has made disaster declarations on many parts of the state, said he asked President Donald Trump to declare a federal disaster.
Mr Pence said: “We’ll be working very closely with Governor Brown and California to see you through these challenging times. We are standing with you.”