The wildfires in Northern California’s wine country are a “long way” from being over, Reuters reported on Thursday, quoting official statements. The toll rose to 31 as authorities began to assess the damage of what is now one of the deadliest series of wildfires ever in the state, reported the Washington Post. Hundreds of residents are still believed to be missing.
“We are not even close to being out of this emergency,”said California’s Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci.
About 1,90,000 acres were damaged by Thursday afternoon, as high winds and dry conditions continued to spread the fires rapidly, the fire department was quoted as saying. The highest damage was reported in Sonoma County, with 17 dead and 400 missing, while in the city of Santa Rosa, nearly 3,000 homes have been destroyed.
Officials are still investigating what caused the fire, but they speculated that power lines toppled by gale-force winds on Sunday night may have sparked it, Reuters reported. Fresh high-speed winds are likely to return by Friday night.