News & Opinion | October 9, 2017 11:58 am

Massive Wildfires in Napa and Sonoma Force Evacuations

Roadways and hospitals have been shut down.

An inmate firefighter monitors flames as a house burns in the Napa wine region in California on October 9, 2017, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region. / AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

Massive wildfires, driven by powerful winds, have burned out of control in Napa and Sonoma counties early Monday, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses and forcing evacuations of thousands of people. The fires have shut down roadways and hospitals. Firefighters are searching for a way to halt the advance of the inferno, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

The extent of the damage is unknown, as is how many were injured due to the fires. But one blaze in and around northern Santa Rosa called the Tubbs Fire had burned at least 20,000 acres by 8 a.m., reports SF Gate. Homes in the Journey’s End Mobile Home Park on Mendocino Avenue and the nearby Fountaingrove Inn burned, as did the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country and a Kmart store, reports the Chronicle. 

Hundreds of firefighters were on the scene as residents described fleeing for the lives in the middle of the night, both on foot and by car. Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox of Cal Fire said that “it’s all hands on deck” and that the fire had started on Sunday in Calistoga. The cause is under investigation, according to the Chronicle. 

Cal Fire spokesperson Dave Shew said, “This is an incredibly fast-moving and dynamic fire. We had real severe winds last night when this started. So it burned very, very fast. Our No. 1 priority was life safety.”

Two hospitals in Santa Rosa were evacuated and power outages were widespread, according to Chronicle. Public schools were closed in several cities.

Lance and Barb Cottrell live near Santa Rosa. They saw fire cresting over the ridge near their home at midnight or so, after a neighbor rang the doorbell, reports the Chronicle. The grabbed some belongings and went to a friend’s house.

“Our house is probably gone,” Lance told the Chronicle. “We just finished it in 2014.”