JUST PURE DEVASTATION
California wildfires claim more lives, structures
SANTA ROSA, Calif. — The flames that raced across California wine country left little more than smoldering ashes and eye-stinging smoke in their wake. House after house is gone, with only brick chimneys and charred laundry machines to mark sites that were once family homes.
The wildfires burned so hot that windows and tire rims melted off cars, leaving many vehicles resting on their steel axles. In one driveway, the glass backboard of a basketball hoop melted, dripped and solidified like a mangled icicle.
Newly homeless residents of Northern California took stock of their shattered lives Tuesday while the blazes that have killed at least 17 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses kept burning. Hundreds more firefighters joined the battle against the uncontained flames.
“This is just pure devastation, and it’s going to take us a while to get out and comb through all of this,” said Ken Pimlott, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. He said the state had “several days of fire weather conditions to come.”
The wildfires already rank among the five deadliest in California history, and officials expected the death toll to increase as the scope of destruction becomes clear. At least 185 people were injured during the blazes that started Sunday night. Nearly 200 people were reported missing in Sonoma County alone.
Mary Caughey, center in blue, reacts with her son, Harrison, left, after finding her wedding ring in debris at her home destroyed by fires in Kenwood, Calif., on Tuesday.