Santa Rosa, Calif.
Deadly fires: Wildfires whipped by 50 mph winds burned out of control throughout Northern California’s wine country this week, killing at least 21 people, hospitalizing hundreds, and forcing more than 20,000 residents to flee their homes. More than 1,100 firefighters were battling 17 separate fires, which have scorched 170,000 acres across nine counties, including Napa and Sonoma, and destroyed or damaged some 3,500 homes and businesses. Residents say that walls of flames descended upon densely populated neighborhoods so quickly that they were forced to flee even before they received emergency alerts. “There was no notice, no warning,” said Maureen Grinnell, 77, who lived in the hills north of Napa with her 89-year-old husband. “I was watching a movie...and I smelled smoke. By the time I started to back the car out of the garage, the house was already on fire.” Authorities warned that the death toll was likely to rise, as more than 500 people remained unaccounted for.
A house in flames