The toll in the wildfires raging across North California in the United States has risen to 40, Reuters reported on Saturday. Hundreds are still missing in what is being called the deadliest blaze in California’s history.
Twenty-two people died in the Tubbs fire in Sonoma County, eight in Mendocino County, four in Yuba County and six in Napa County, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Around one lakh people were forced to evacuate their homes – including 3,000 on Saturday from the city of Santa Rosa, about 80 km north of San Francisco. So fire, the fires have damaged or destroyed 5,700 homes, AP reported.
More than 10,000 firefighters, supported by air tankers and helicopters, are battling at least 16 major wildfires north of San Francisco. The flames have engulfed 2,14,000 acres over the past week, reports said.
“This is truly one of the greatest tragedies that California has ever faced,” Reuters quoted California Governor Jerry Brown as saying. “The devastation is just unbelievable. It is a horror that no one could have imagined.”
At least a dozen wineries in the Napa Valley and in Sonoma County have been damaged or destroyed. This will hit the state’s wine industry and related tourism severely.
On Saturday morning, officials said winds of 32 kmph were hindering firefighting efforts, forcing the evacuation of 400 more homes, the AP report said.
While the winds are expected to weaken overnight, high temperatures and dry conditions that feed fires will remain through the weekend, forecasters said, according to Reuters.