At least forty people have died after a series of 18 disastrous fires swept over northern California, beginning on October 8. This massive upsurge in wildfires has become one of the deadliest in state history.
Santa Rosa took the brunt of the hit, especially in the Coffey Park neighborhood, where homes were either completely obliterated or untouched by the inferno. Napa County was also affected, with 74 people missing and 4 confirmed deaths according to Napa County spokeswoman Molly Rattigan.
Although wineries were put at risk, the grape harvest fortunately occurred prior to the fires. Additionally, some vineyards were luckier than others and are already taking in visitors again, while others are destroyed.
Although winds have proven to be an obstacle, thousands of firefighters are working incredibly hard to battle the flames while also searching for victims in the rubble. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, about 217,000 acres have been burned. Officials have reported damage to about 7,000 homes and structures, estimating about $1 billion to repair.
Many supplies have been necessary to combat the blazes, including fire engines, bulldozers, hand crews, and helicopters to drop water at the scene. However, authorities have urged that the public not immediately help with the clean up so as to avoid the toxic ashes of burnt cars and homes.
Most heart-wrenching for people is having to deal with missing family members and friends. Not knowing whether they are dead or alive has left many anxious with uncertainty.
Despite the tragedy, there remains hope, as weather conditions have improved with rises in humidity levels which bring moisture into the air and rain in some areas, a change that is beneficial to the firefighters. Also, conditions are more favorable with lower wind speeds. The main focus now is to finish containing the fires, and then beginning the challenge of the road to recovery.
With hot wind gusts forming in Southern California and climbing temperatures provoking record breaking heat, fire officials are apprehensive. They are preparing by shifting resources to be ready in the case of wildfires.
By: Lauren Mansy