California fires: ‘ Worse before it gets better’
Another blast of high winds expected through weekend
Thousands of firefighters battling two dozen deadly fires in Northern California faced another round of rapidly deteriorating conditions Thursday with a forecast of low humidity and winds gusts of up to 45 mph — with no hint of rain.
Conditions were not expected to improve. Winds, including a new round expected late Friday into Sunday, . may not only hamper the efforts of firefighters but also increase the risk of new hot spots, forecasters warned.
The death toll increased to at least 28. About 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed.
“Red flag” warnings of dangerous conditions were in effect for much of Northern California and have been extended from Big Sur to the Santa Cruz mountains.
Gov. Jerry Brown has issued emergency declarations for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada, Orange and Solano counties.
“It’s going to continue to get worse before it gets better,” state fire chief Ken Pimlott warned.
The biggest blaze, called the Tubbs Fire, was only 10% contained on Thursday.
Chaotic evacuations and poor communications have made finding friends and family difficult. Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said hundreds were still missing, although officials believe many of those — almost 400 — will be found. The death toll could climb, he said: “The devastation is enormous. We can’t even get into most areas.”