JUST PURE DEV­AS­TA­TION

Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires claim more lives, struc­tures

West Hawaii Today - - Front Page -

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.

JEFF CHIU/ AP PHOTO

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.

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