Peo­ple re­fus­ing wild­fire evac­u­a­tion or­der warned: ‘You are on your own’

Irish Independent - - World News - Noel Ran­dewich

FIRE­FIGHT­ERS faced an­other round of dry, windy con­di­tions yes­ter­day as they bat­tled wild­fires that have killed at least 31 peo­ple in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia and left hun­dreds miss­ing in the heart of wine coun­try.

The most lethal wild­fire event in Cal­i­for­nia’s his­tory has killed peo­ple while they sleep in their beds and prompted au­thor­i­ties to evac­u­ate thou­sands of res­i­dents, warn­ing any­one de­cid­ing to wait it out: “You are on your own.”

The toll from the more than 20 fires rag­ing across eight coun­ties could climb, with more than 400 peo­ple in Sonoma County alone still listed as miss­ing.

With winds of up to

100kmh and hu­mid­ity of just

10pc set to cre­ate “crit­i­cal fire weather con­di­tions” and “con­trib­ute to ex­treme fire be­hav­iour” yes­ter­day af­ter­noon and to­day, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice, a force of 8,000 fire­fight­ers was work­ing to re­in­force and ex­tend buf­fer lines across the re­gion where the flames have scorched more than 190,000 acres.

With 3,500 homes and busi­nesses in­cin­er­ated, the so-called North Bay fires have re­duced whole neigh­bour­hoods in the city of Santa Rosa to smoul­der­ing ru­ins dot­ted with charred trees and burned-out cars.

The cause of the dis­as­ter is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but of­fi­cials said power lines top­pled by gale-force winds last Sun­day night may have sparked it.

The Napa Val­ley town of Cal­is­toga faced one of the big­gest threats and its 5,000-plus res­i­dents were or­dered from their homes.

Cal­is­toga Mayor Chris Can­ning said any­one re­fus­ing to heed the manda­tory evac­u­a­tion would be left to fend for them­selves if fire ap­proached, warn­ing: “You are on your own.”

Sonoma County ac­counted for 17 of the North Bay fa­tal­i­ties, all from the Tubbs fire, which now ranks as Cal­i­for­nia’s dead­li­est sin­gle wild­fire since 2003.

Some peo­ple killed were asleep when flames en­gulfed their homes, fire of­fi­cials said. Oth­ers had only min­utes to es­cape as winds fanned fast-mov­ing blazes.

Mark Ghi­lar­ducci, state di­rec­tor of emer­gency ser­vices, said the loss of phone tow­ers likely con­trib­uted to dif­fi­cul­ties in warn­ing res­i­dents.

Photo: AP

A fire­fighter mon­i­tors a flare-up at the head of a wild­fire in Sonoma, Cal­i­for­nia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.