The death toll from wildfires raging in California has grown to 17.
The blazes have also left at least 180 people injured and have destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses. Described as a “terrible tragedy” by Donald Trump, the President said the US federal government will “stand with the people of California”.
Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada and Orange counties and requested a presidential major disaster declaration to help battle at least 18 blazes burning throughout the state. A series of fires that flared up north of San Francisco on Sunday night are among the deadliest in the state’s history.
Some of the largest of 14 blazes burning over a 200-mile region were in Napa and Sonoma counties, home to dozens of wineries that attract tourists from around the world. They sent smoke as far south as San Francisco, about 60 miles away.
Sonoma County said it has received more than 100 missing-person reports as family and friends scramble to locate loved ones. The county Sheriff’s Office announced two additional deaths there late on Tuesday. That brings the county’s total to 11. The other six are spread among Napa, Yuba and Mendocino counties.
Hospitals say they have treated at least 185 people injured by wildfires that have rampaged through parts of northern California since Sunday night. Most of the injured were taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s emergency room, which treated about 100 people since the wildfires began.
The hospital said most had respiratory-related issues, including difficulty breathing, asthma and throat irritation, and 14 patients were treated for burns. Three of the burn victims remain in the Intensive Care Unit.
Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa treated about 50 patients, mostly for minor injuries and smoke inhalation.nPetaluma Valley Hospital treated about 35 patients from wildfires, most of whom have been released.
Meanwhile a key Napa County vintner said at least five wineries in his trade group were destroyed or seriously damaged in a region synonymous with excellent food and wine.
The Napa Valley Vintners association earlier Tuesday had put the number at four. But board chairman Michael Honig said the latest count was five. He said damage was to facilities, and the group does not know about vineyards.
Mr Honig said the next few days might not be the best time to sample wines, but he wants people to visit in a week or two. He is convinced the Napa brand will survive. In Southern California, most evacuation orders have been lifted as firefighters successfully battle a wildfire that destroyed 14 buildings, most of them homes.
Thousands of people in Tustin, Orange and Anaheim were allowed to begin returning home Tuesday evening, a day after the blaze erupted in northern Orange County.