No fire respite fore­cast for Calif.

3,500 homes and busi­nesses have been lost amid ‘pure dev­as­ta­tion’

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Mike James and John Bacon

The deadly wild­fires rag­ing through North­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s wine coun­try are get­ting a de­struc­tive boost from high winds mov­ing into the re­gion, an­other blow to com­mu­ni­ties reel­ing from one of the most dev­as­tat­ing fire events in U.S. his­tory.

Thurs­day’s fore­cast isn’t ex­pected to bring much re­lief. A “red flag” warn­ing was is­sued be­cause of the “very high fire dan­ger,” the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice in Mon­terey, Calif., warned. High-el­e­va­tion ar­eas will see wind gusts in the 45- to 55-mph range, and val­ley ar­eas should see gusts peak­ing at 20 to 30 mph, the weather ser­vice said.

“This is a se­ri­ous, crit­i­cal, cat­a­strophic event,” Cal Fire Chief Ken Pim­lott said. “It’s pure dev­as­ta­tion, and it’s go­ing to take a while to get out and comb through all this.”

At least 21 peo­ple have been killed. More than 3,500 homes and busi­nesses have been de­stroyed across the wine coun­try that has be­come a des­ti­na­tion for vis­i­tors from around the globe.

Air res­cue teams have plucked more than 50 peo­ple from roofs and moun­tain­tops. Chris Childs of the Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol said pets have been in­cluded in the res­cues.

More than 250 square miles have burned since Sun­day. More than 4,000 fire­fight­ers were bat­tling the blazes.

TREVOR HUGHES, USA TO­DAY

Fire­fighter Paige Madrid sprays down an ap­proach­ing fire near Ken­wood, Calif., on Tues­day. Fire­fight­ers de­fend one home at a time, 2B.

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